A court-appointed monitor said Friday that Gov. Jerry Brown's quest to end judicial oversight in state prisons is "not only premature, but a needless distraction" from improving care for mentally ill inmates.
Special Master Matthew Lopes cited dozens of suicides last year, long isolation instead of treatment and lapses in care as reasons federal oversight should continue.
Lopes' assessment, in a report filed Friday with the U.S. District Court, came after he visited two-thirds of California's prisons. He had intended to see all 33 lockups, he said, but soon determined that only Sacramento — not individual wardens — could fix the underlying problems with mental health treatment in the corrections system.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the agency would have a full response to the 609-page report later.
Brown wants the courts to halt oversight of the mental health services and withdraw orders to reduce overcrowding. He declared last week that California has "one of the finest prison systems in the United States" and that inmates get "far better" medical care, including mental health care, in prison than those outside.
"Any attempt at a more abrupt conclusion to court oversight would be … not only premature but a needless distraction from the important work that is being done in the quality improvement project," he told the court…..State prisons not ready to end court oversight, official says - latimes.com