KCRA 3 — A federal judge on Friday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's bid to regain state control of inmates' mental health care, citing systematic failures to reduce prison suicides, provide timely care and hire enough staff.
The decision is a blow to the Democratic governor's attempts to end nearly two decades of expensive federal lawsuits that influence nearly every aspect of California's prison system.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento ruled that the state failed to prove that it is providing the level of care required by the U.S. Constitution for the state's more than 32,000 mentally ill inmates.
"This court finds that ongoing constitutional violations remain in this action and the prospective relief ordered by this court remains necessary to remedy those violations," the judge said in his 68-page decision.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it will appeal the ruling.
"It's unfortunate that the judge didn't give the appropriate weight to reports by national experts who found that CDCR is providing constitutional mental health care to inmates, and in fact, is a model for the nation," Deborah Hoffman, spokeswoman for the agency, said in a statement. "We will appeal this decision and are confident that we will prevail. It's time for this costly and intrusive lawsuit - now in its 23rd year - to come to an end."
The ruling also undermines Brown's efforts to lift a separate court order that otherwise will force the state to reduce its prison population by nearly 10,000 by year's end. continue reading...