Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) is a supermax prison designed to house California’s most serious criminals, the “worst of the worst.” One half of the prison houses maximum security inmates (Level IV) in a general population setting. The other half houses inmates in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) designed for inmates presenting serious management concerns.
The SHU is designed for inmates who are difficult management cases, prison gang members, and violent maximum security inmates. Solitary confinement is common in the SHU in eight foot by ten foot smooth concrete cells. Inmates are housed in such a cell for 22 hours per day. The cells have a single florescent light that the inmate can control.
In May, 2013, it was ranked as one of the ten worst prisons in the U.S. by Mother Jones magazine, which cited the high number of prisoners in long-term isolation units. The suggestion is that solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment. Damian Williams, involved in the televised beating of a truck driver (Reginald Denny), served time at Pelican Bay. Sanyika Shakur, author of Monster: Autobiography of a Los Angeles Gang Member, also spent time at Pelican Bay. Pelican Bay is just 13 miles from the Oregon / California border and is several miles north of Crescent City. It opened in 1989.