The California Mandela Campaign Launches to Support AB 280

January 24, 2023

Hamid Yazdan Panah
Advocacy Director, Immigrant Defense Advocates

Sacramento, CA – A community of advocates and non-profit organizations have come together to announce the launch of the California Mandela Campaign (CMC). The CMC was formed to support the fight to end solitary confinement in California, and support the passing of AB 280, the California Mandela Act.

The California Mandela Act places comprehensive limits on the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons, and is the first bill in the nation to also cover private immigration detention facilities.  The legislation bans the use of solitary confinement against pregnant people, individuals with certain disabilities, as well as individuals under 26 and over 59.

The campaign joined Asm. Chris Holden in a press conference this morning about the reintroduction of the California Mandela Act, and the need for comprehensive legislation on this issue. Watch the recorded press conference here.

The campaign includes California Families Against Solitary, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, Disability Rights California, Immigrant Defense Advocates, NextGen California, Prison Law Office, and Underground Scholars Initiative, UC Berkeley, among other supporting organizations and sponsors.

To launch the campaign and kick-off the legislative year CMC convened a legislative briefing on the issue of solitary confinement in California. A recorded version of the briefing can be viewed online here.

For more information on the Mandela Act as well as a list of supporting organizations please visit


Quotes from Sponsoring Organizations & Impacted Individuals

“Solitary confinement was torture last year, it is torture today and will always be torture. We will not stop fighting until this practice ends in California and everywhere.” – Dolores Canales, Solitary Survivor and Co-founder of California Families Against Solitary Confinement

“Solitary confinement continues to be used as a weapon against people of color, and to break up organizing efforts inside immigrant detention facilities and beyond. We will continue to stand alongside those who are fighting for their basic human rights inside all carceral facilities in California.” – Lisa Knox, Legal Director at the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice 

“I’ve been meeting with community members across California, and particularly impacted people with disabilities, and they fully support the Mandela Act, “ said Vanessa Clementine Ramos, Community Organizer at Disability Rights California. “I know from my own personal journey that we need to heal and support people, rather than use punitive practices like solitary confinement that only cause harm and don’t keep anyone safe.”

“Given California has been a leader on so many social justice issues, it is shocking and disheartening that we have failed to align our solitary confinement policies with accepted minimal international standards. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation added the ‘R’ in 2005, but the continued routine and prolonged use of solitary confinement – a tortuous practice known to erode mental and physical health – is diametrically opposed to its stated mission and must end.” – Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa, Deputy Director of NextGen California

“California cannot undo the harm done to me and thousands of others who were subject to solitary confinement during our youth. It can, however, listen and learn from our stories and make sure that no one else is subjected to this cruel and inhumane practice.” – Kevin McCarthy Solitary Survivor and Undergraduate at UC Berkeley with the Underground Scholars Initiative

“Solitary confinement is routinely used as a weapon of oppression against people of color in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities. Standing against it means standing up for our communities and standing in solidarity with people organizing inside these facilities.” – Jackie Gonzalez, Policy Director for Immigrant Defense Advocates

“Solitary confinement is a pervasive and serious problem across the state. Our clients in prisons and jails suffer every day in cruel and inhumane conditions on account of the excessive, unprincipled use of solitary confinement. A legislative solution is essential to end these harmful, unnecessary practices and to protect human life and dignity.” – Patrick Booth, Staff Attorney for the Prison Law Office

“Passing the Mandela Act this year is DRC’s priority,” said Eric Harris, Public Policy Director at Disability Rights California. “Solitary confinement not only disproportionately affects disabled people—particularly Black and Latinx—but it is also disabling. We know there are effective alternatives to solitary confinement and the only way to stop its use is for a comprehensive, legislative solution.”

“The California Mandela Act is an important step in our state ending the use of torture and isolation. Having lived through the horrific experience of isolation, I know that solitary confinement is torture. And the harm this torture causes continues on even after you’re released.” Salesh “Sal” Prasad, Solitary Survivor and Activist in CDCR and private immigration detention.

For more information on the Mandela Act as well as a list of supporting organizations please visit