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Prison Life takes a look at the American prison system. It is broken down into two stages: Page One shows us a maximum security prison, Pelican Bay Prison and on Page Two MSNBC cameras takes a look at the problems behind bars.
- Pelican Bay opened in 1989 principally to house the growing population of maximum-security and high-security risk inmates in the California prison system. It is in a remote forested area 11 miles from the California-Oregon state line and far from California's major metropolitan areas, 370 miles north of San Francisco and more than 750 miles north of Los Angeles. Originally designed to house 2,550 prisoners, as of 2006, Pelican Bay houses 3,301 prisoners, nearly all of whom are classified as "Level IV" maximum-security.
- The Pelican Bay SHU was one of the first such facilities in modern American history explicitly planned and built as a control-unit facility. SHU inmates are held in isolation 22.5 hours per day in their undecorated cell and one hour alone in a small indoor exercise yard. Radios and TVs are allowed.
- The outside operations of several prison gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family and the Aryan Brotherhood, are directed via secret communications from within Pelican Bay's SHU.
- Prisoner advocates have argued that SHU imprisonment is cruel and unusual punishment, due to the lack of stimulation, activity and natural light given to these prisoners. Psychiatrists have identified a psychiatric condition known as SHU Syndrome, similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms of which include especially serious depression.
Pelican Bay - Part 1
Pelican Bay - Part 2
Pelican Bay - Part 3
Pelican Bay - Part 4
Pelican Bay - Part 5