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Pelican Bay in Northern California is the prison convicts fear most. Hundreds of inmates are held there in windowless cells, reportedly without normal human contact — often for more than a decade. This week, a federal judge agreed to consider a class-action lawsuit that might deem that practice unconstitutional. We hear both sides of a case that could have consequences nationwide. Also, officials close to Governor Jerry Brown are accused of scuttling a deal to clean up radioactive waste from a nuclear accident near Los Angeles. The accident happened in 1959.

KCRWImage-for-WWLA.jpgLater, on To the Point, India has been embarrassed by revelations of the brutal gang-rape and murder of two young girls. Pakistan is under fire after the "honor killing" of a pregnant woman. Is sexual violence on the increase in that region or just getting more attention? Will an international spotlight bring much-needed change?


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Is Solitary Confinement 'Cruel and Unusual?' 18 MIN, 48 SEC

Pelican Bay is California's prison for the so-called "worst of the worst." In the state's northwest corner, it's designed for inmates called too dangerous to stay in the prison population. Some reportedly are kept in windowless cells for 22 hours a day — sometimes for more than a decade. This week, a federal judge agreed to make hundreds of current and former inmates part of a class action lawsuit claiming their treatment, solitary confinement, violates the US constitution.

Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times (@paigestjohn)
Terry Kupers, Wright Institute (@wrightinstitute)
David Warren, volunteer chaplin
Terry Thorton, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (@CACorrections)

St. John on a judge granting class action status to inmates' solitary confinement case

How Boeing Blocked a Nuclear and Chemical Clean-Up in LA's Backyard 8 MIN, 10 SEC

In 1979, a nuclear power reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown. There was widespread anxiety nationwide. As a reporter at KNBC, Channel 4, I reported that a similar accident, a much smaller research reactor in the Santa Suzanna Mountains, had occurred 20 years earlier — near Los Angeles. Now, all these years later — after decades of studies, reports and regulatory hearings by state and federal agencies, the radioactive residue from that accident has not been completely cleaned up. There had — finally -- been an agreement between the Department of Energy, Boeing, which currently owns the site, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control — but, during the administration of Governor Jerry Brown — it's been derailed. That's according to a six-month investigation for Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica by Liza Tucker.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control denied our request to appear on this program. However, DTSC spokeswoman Tamma Adamek did provide us with this statement:

"The Department of Toxic Substances Control is committed to a complete, science-based cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site that fully protects public health and the environment as required by California law. We are holding NASA and the Department of Energy to requirements set in the 2010 Administrative Orders of Consent, and we are holding Boeing to the requirements of the 2007 consent order.

All of our decisions have and will continue to be made through a transparent process with full opportunity for the public to participate.

The Consumer Watchdog report issued today is fundamentally flawed. Its claim that DTSC has already approved a final cleanup plan for the Boeing portion of the site is simply mistaken. Its selective review of the record misconstrues DTSC’s actions and fails to note that state officials have met with a wide array of interests, including elected officials and the parties responsible for cleaning up the contamination."

Liza Tucker, Consumer Watchdog (@ConsumerWD)

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