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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge says a lawsuit filed by inmates in a Northern California prison alleging their solitary confinement conditions are unconstitutional can proceed.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken announced her decision during a hearing in Oakland on Thursday. She said she would issue a written ruling later.

A group of Pelican Bay State Prison inmates held in isolation in the so-called security housing unit alleged that their indefinite and often years-long stints in the isolation cells amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawyers representing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had urged Wilken to dismiss the lawsuit. The CDCR argued that the conditions met constitutional standards and that prison officials have wide latitude in housing inmates.

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