Inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California are on a hunger strike, protesting conditions in the prison’s security housing units, where hundreds of men are held in isolation, in some cases for decades. The strikers are seeking limits on isolation and an easing of restrictions. California corrections officials say the units are humane, and inmates in security housing units are affiliated with prison gangs that run criminal networks behind bars and on the streets.

But an investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that not all the men held in these units for years were sent there for violent gang behavior. Some have been confined under a policy that allows tattoos, drawings and books as evidence of a gang affiliation.

CREDITS:
Reporter: Michael Montgomery
Producer/Editor: Adithya Sambamurthy
Camera/Sound: Singeli Agnew, Adithya Sambamurthy, Roberto Daza, Owen Wesson
Graphics: Sam Ward, David Ritsher
Still Photographs: Adithya Sambamurthy
Senior Producer: Stephen Talbot
Executive Producer: Susanne Reber

Adithya Sambamurthy

Adithya Sambamurthy is a video producer for Reveal, with a background in photojournalism and documentary film. He joined Reveal after working as a staff photographer for The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit journalism organization that merged with The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2012. Sambamurthy previously worked on documentaries for National Geographic, PBS FRONTLINE/World and numerous independent productions. He also worked as a photojournalist at the San Jose Mercury News in California; The News-Press of Fort Myers, Florida; and the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times. Since joining Reveal, he has produced, shot and edited stories for the website, as well as for a number of Reveal's broadcast and online partners, including the PBS NewsHour, KQED public television and ABC News. Sambamurthy has been nominated for a national Emmy Award, shared in a George Foster Peabody Award and received commendations from the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Michael Montgomery

Michael Montgomery is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. He has led collaborations with the Associated Press, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Frontline, KQED and others.

Previously, Montgomery was a senior reporter at American Public Media, a special correspondent for the BBC and an associate producer with CBS News. He began his career in eastern Europe, covering the fall of communism and wars in former Yugoslavia for the Daily Telegraph and Los Angeles Times. His investigations into human rights abuses in the Balkans led to the arrest and conviction of Serbian and Albanian paramilitaries and creation of a new war crimes court based in The Hague. Montgomery’s honors include Murrow, Peabody, IRE, duPont, Third Coast and Overseas Press Club awards. He is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.