Life in solitary: advocacy groups push to change security housing units

It was lonely, quiet, and constricting in the 8 by 10 foot security housing unit 4B where Armando R. Morales spent nearly 23 hours a day in isolation at Corcoran State Prison.

He entered the prison system at age 16, and for the last eight years of his life spent his term in a security housing unit, often referred to by advocacy groups as solitary confinement.

Bobby Morales

Armando “Bobby” Morales at 8-years-old. Click here to see more.

Morales was 29 years old when he hanged himself by a shoe lace and a blue blanket in his unit on August 28, 2012.

Armando Robert Morales, known as “Bobby” by his family, was one of 32 inmates in a California prison who killed himself in 2012.

He was housed in the Security Housing Unit, or “SHU” — a place where inmates are 33 percent more likely to commit suicide than inmates in regular cells, according to Dr. Raymond Patterson in a federal report.

Prisoners in the SHU are 2 percent of California prisons’ population, but make up 42 percent of suicides overall, according to a 2012 report by Amnesty International, a global human rights group.

Stories like Morales’ are one of the reasons that California Families Against Solitary Confinement are pushing the California prisons to change the way inmates in segregation are treated. [Read more…]