Cruel and Unusual Punishment in California Prisons

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Research conducted by “The Sacramento Bee” has revealed startling and abhorrent information regarding California State prisons that is constantly disregarded in mainstream media. Interviews and investigations held at High Desert State Prison, located in Susanville, California, have uncovered the grim reality facing prisoners as they are succumbed to cruel and unusual punishments. Social scientists from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were sent to High Desert in order to assess reported allegation of abuse that included denial of medical care, racial slurs, gratuitous violence and destruction of protest appeals.

Though inmates incarcerated in state prisons are not the most reliable sources, Norman Skonovd who acts as a state researcher found prisoners credible due to the highly consistent stories in separate interviews. These stories are supported by hundreds of pages of legal papers and prison documents.

Numerous instances were reported of the extent of punishments and excessive force used by correction officers. Claims have been made regarding guards who contaminated inmates’ food with dirt and insects and regularly starve those who make complaints. Other stories are told of guards stripping inmates naked and parading them cell blocks. These allegations as well as others were raised to the attention of the correction department’s research director, Assistant Secretary Steven Chapman. Chapman was unimpressed by the disturbing claims and downplayed any complaints made by inmates.

Title: Guards accused of cruelty, racism

Author: Charles Piller

Source:, 1/28/11


Student Researcher: Karen Kniel, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Patrick Jackson, Sonoma State University