Attorney Sleep Survey Reports from Pelican Bay SHU

Full reports are linked in blue.

•Sleep survey report (Oct 2015)
“Recent interviews with 13 prisoners at Pelican Bay SHU, from 13 different SHU sections, reveal widespread sleep disruption due to the institution of cell checks 48 times per day of each SHU prisoner. This practice began on August 3, 2015. For a variety of reasons, the process is loud. As a result, these prisoners are getting much less sleep, persistently interrupted sleep, and a significantly lower quality of sleep than they had enjoyed before these checks started. They are suffering from headaches, fatigue, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, irritability, depression and other symptoms. The sentiment reported by two of the men reflected the general view: “The method and noise from the checks is torture”; “The every 30-minute checks have to be stopped or people are going to get sick or worse.” In addition, they report that regular prison programs have been negatively impacted. ….”

•Follow-up report on sleep issues (Jan 2016)
[Note: “Security/welfare checks” in Pelican Bay SHU were supposed to be reduced to once an hour from 10pm to 6am after over 5 months of guards doing the ‘checks’ there every 20-30 minutes, 48 times a day (Aug 2, 2015 to early Jan 2016). This change resulted from outcry by the public and the American Public Health Association, demonstrations at PBSP and CDCR, phone and email campaigns, and inspections by attorneys and the judge monitoring the Ashker settlement. (See Attorneys make monitoring visit to Pelican Bay SHU Dec. 2 section of SF Bay View Article. It means disruption with inescapable loud noise and lights in Pelican Bay SHU 40 times daily, rather than 48.]
“… A current SHU prisoner states that he wakes up in between the hourly checks, likening the 30 minute checks to an “alarm clock” that he has now internalized. One prisoner stated that the new hourly policy “looks good on paper, but it is not real.” …No one reported an increase in their ability to function while awake. One prisoner reported that he made a New Year’s resolution to get back to his previous program (reading, writing and exercising) but has been unable to summon the energy to do so, even though he reported feeling much better, sleep-wise. Several prisoners reported headaches, and two reported a loss of appetite. Dry eyes and dehydration were also noted….”

•Third report (March 2016)
“… We are now in the eighth month of these loud and frequent checks which cause radically disrupted and shortened sleep for hundreds of prisoners. It is truly a public health crisis. However, interim measures are readily available: (1) instructions to tower officers not to close or open pod doors all the way during First Watch and (2) training of correctional officers on the importance of conducting these checks quietly and how to do that.