The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a constitutional challenge to California’s policy of segregating new prisoners by race.
For the first 60 days, a new inmate is kept in a cell with another inmate of the same race, in what state officials say is an effort to reduce violence. Skinheads or members of black and Latino gangs are more likely to get into fights if they are housed with someone of another race, the officials say.
The new prisoners are evaluated for their potential for violence, and after 60 days they are assigned to a permanent cell – without regard to their race, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The segregation policy was challenged by Garrison Johnson, a black inmate, who contended that “intentional state racial segregation” violates the Constitution and its guarantee of equal protection of the laws. He lost before a federal judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court voted to take up his claim.