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Plug Pulled in California Prison

California is short on energy. The state has suffered repeated Stage Three power alerts and rolling power outages. Without authorization by the Legislature, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) may be trying to alleviate the crisis. And it seems at least one warden is locking his prisons down and shutting off power to the cells.

Eli Rosenblatt, author and Director of the Prison Activist Resource Center, reported that prisoners at Lancaster, a maximum security prison located in the desert of Los Angeles County, are locked down from 4:00 P.M. until about 9:00 A.M. daily, and the electricity to their cells is cut off. Lancaster prisoners were fed three sandwiches a day (rather than the two hot meals and one sandwich required by state regulations), and denied showers because staff claim there was no power to run them. The prisoners were also reportedly confined to cold, dark cells without any hot water.

California's problems started when the state decided to deregulate energy prices. In addition, several power plants mysteriously took themselves off-line at the same time for "maintenance." The shortage of power plants, and the decaying energy transmission lines causing bottlenecks in the state's antiquated power distribution system, have driven prices up, made energy scarce, and mandated cut-backs. But, prisons contract for power, and subjecting several thousand prisoners to cold, dark cells without hot food, hot water, or showers will not ease California's energy problems. Prison officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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