California prisons to vastly reduce solitary confinement: lawyers
A prisoner behind bars (Shutterstock)

California will no longer hold inmates in solitary confinement for more than five years at its notorious Pelican Bay prison and will reform its incarceration practices for similar units in other prisons under a sweeping settlement announced on Tuesday.

The settlement ends a lawsuit originally brought by prisoners at the facility, where some of them lived for decades in units where they were housed alone in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.

As outlined in the agreement by plaintiffs' lawyers, most inmates held in so-called Security Housing Units for more than 10 years will be released immediately into general prison populations, and inmates will no longer be confined to indeterminate stays in such units.