April 06, 2018 02:12 PM

Erik and Lyle Menendez are together again, almost 29 years after murdering their wealthy parents in the den of their mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

PEOPLE confirms that Erik, 47, has moved into the same California housing unit as 50-year-old Lyle.

For more than two decades, according to authorities, Lyle was housed at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California — a small town outside Sacramento. Erik was incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, more than 500 miles away.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the brothers were separated in 1996, after their murder convictions.

In February, authorities say, Lyle was moved into the same detention facility as Erik but they lived in separate housing units and didn’t see each other. Then on Wednesday, Erik moved into the same housing unit as his brother.

The two men now live in a unit where inmates agree to participate in educational and other rehabilitation programs. If any prisoners fight or cause disruptions, they are moved out of the unit.

“They can and do interact with each other, all the inmates in that facility,” corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton told ABC News on Thursday, adding that she didn’t know how the brothers reacted during their reunion.

Despite their lengthy separation, the brothers have remained close. In a rare jailhouse interview last year, Lyle told PEOPLE they kept in touch through the years.

“We write each other regularly,” he said. “We even play chess through the mail, but it’s a little slow.”

The brothers have also been active while behind bars since shooting their parents with shotguns in 1989: Erik spent time with terminally ill prisoners and Lyle has been president of the inmate government and ran a support group for prisoners who endured childhood sexual abuse.

“We just keep trying to find something positive from the experiences that we had,” Lyle told PEOPLE.

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Lyle (left) and Erik Menendez
Nick Ut/AP

Decades after their high-profile crimes, the Menendez brothers remain notorious among other inmates.

On Aug. 20, 1989, Erik and Lyle fatally shot their wealthy parents in the den of their home. Dad Jose Menendez, a 45-year-old Hollywood executive, was shot point-blank in the back of the head. Mom Kitty Menendez, 47, was shot 15 times, including once in the face.

At the time, Lyle was 21 and Erik was 18.

Prosecutors said the motive was the family’s $14 million estate. The brothers, however, blamed the killings on the mob but later claimed they shot their parents in self-defense after years of sexual abuse.

Jurors disagreed and convicted Erik and Lyle of first-degree murder, sentencing both to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lyle Menendez

Years after the shotgun slayings, do the brothers feel remorse for the violent crimes that resulted in their permanent incarceration?

“I would give my life to change it,” Erik told PEOPLE from prison in 20o5. “I talk to my mom. She knows my heart. I ask for forgiveness.”

“You are often defined by a few moments of your life, but that’s not who you are in your life,” Lyle said last year. “Your life is your totality of it. you can’t change it. You’re stuck with the decisions you made.”

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