California corrections officials said Thursday that they are handing out earplugs and telling guards to walk softly around some of the state’s most dangerous prisoners after the inmates complained about noise, says the Associated Press. The inmates say new welfare checks at Pelican Bay State Prison’s notorious security housing unit are keeping them up nights because noise caused by guards rouses them every half-hour around the clock. Seventy inmates have filed complaints.
Officers are supposed to pause at each cell and peer in long enough to confirm that the prisoner is breathing. Advocates said inmates are complaining that officers are deliberately making noise, slamming the door to the isolation unit and shining flashlights into inmates’ eyes. Pelican Bay, a supermax in northern California, is using a new electronic system that requires officers to punch a time clock beside each cell to confirm their bed checks. One advocate said officers are resisting the new system. “Nobody wants to punch time clocks, and the anger has been taken out on prisoners,” he said.