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Ending years of litigation, today the California prison system is significantly changing the way it handles solitary confinement, and will likely move thousands of inmates into the general population. The lawsuit was brought by prisoners, mostly gang members and those who committed crimes behind bars, who claimed being held in a small, windowless, soundproof cell for up to 23 hours a day for decades amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Guest host Barbara Bogaev discusses the modification of California's solitary confinements rules.

Also, Elephants are killed every day by poachers and terrorist groups in Africa. Now conservation groups are trying to combat that by pushing for a ban on ivory sales in California.  

Photo: agatha

Producers:
Jenny Hamel
Sarah Sweeney

Giving the "SHU" the Boot? 14 MIN, 58 SEC

Today California is taking a step back from its use of one of the harshest measures in criminal justice -- unlimited solitary confinement for gang members and inmates who commit crimes while inside. Now as part of a landmark legal settlement the prison system will enforce strict limits on how long prisoners can spend in isolation, and who goes there in the first place.

The lawsuit prompting this overhaul goes back to 2009, and two convicted killers serving time in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay Prison in Northern California. Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell were among 78 prisoners who'd been held in solitary housing units (SHUs) for more than 20 years. They said living in concrete "holes" -- as they called them -- for 23 hours a day with minimal human contact was tantamount to torture.

Guests:
Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times (@paigestjohn)
Terry Kupers, Wright Institute (@wrightinstitute)

More:
Ashker v. Governor of California
Madrid v. Gomez

Can an Ivory Sale Ban in California Stop Elephant Poaching? 12 MIN, 37 SEC

It has been against the law to sell ivory or any elephant parts for that matter in California since 1977 -- and nationwide since 1990. But federal and state laws still allow the sale of older ivory imported before those dates. Now conservationists are trying to close this loophole that's creating an appetite for ivory in California. They say it's part of the reason why poachers are killing nearly a hundred African elephants every day.

Guests:
Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News (@PaulRogersSJMN)
Gina Kinzley, Oakland Zoo (@oakzoo)

More:
AB 96: Animal parts and products: importation or sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn
Rogers on the proposed ivory ban
Kinzley on World Elephant Day, 96 elephants campaign

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