Racial Segregation in Prison

Editorial: Racial Segregation in Prison
The New York Times
November 14, 2004

The Supreme Court heard arguments recently in a challenge to California’s policy of segregating inmates by race in their first 60 days of incarceration. Prison officials argue that the practice reduces racially motivated violence. But government-imposed racial segregation should be permitted only in extraordinary circumstances, if at all. The court should strike down the policy.

When inmates arrive at California Department of Corrections facilities, either as new inmates or transfers, they are temporarily held in double cells at a prison “reception center.” When cell assignments are made, the inmates are divided into four general categories: black, white, Asian and other. Inmates are almost invariably assigned cellmates of their own race.

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