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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Judge hears claims of neglect in prison psych wards

LA TimesInmates are shuffled through a prison psychiatric ward without adequate care or attention, leading to two deaths, including the water-intoxication of a mentally ill man who previously nearly drank himself to death, lawyers for California prisoners told a federal judge Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton heard that testimony as prison lawyers seek new sanctions against California over the treatment of inmates in the state's crowded prisons, an unintended consequence of Gov. Jerry Brown's failed bid earlier this year to end federal court oversight. In separate motions, prisoners' lawyers also sought orders against use of force and tear gas on mentally ill inmates, their housing in solitary confinement, alleged lack of treatment for inmates on death row, and the continued shipment of inmates at high risk of contracting valley fever to prisons infected with the deadly spores.

Lawyers for state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris had attempted to prevent Karlton from hearing testimony Wednesday over the March death of Desmond Watkins, who drank a fatal amount of water while being held in the psychiatric hospital attached to Salinas Valley State Prison. They contend allegations of substandard care are a matter of "difference in clinical opinion" and fail to show "willful blindness" to the needs of inmates.

Three psychiatrists who worked at or inspected Salinas Valley allege critical staffing shortages and repeatedly warned prison administrators the conditions were unsafe. Further, they complain of wait lists in the state system to receive care, premature discharges of seriously ill inmates, and shortages of supplies to inmates such as soap and clean underwear.

The state refutes those allegations but acknowledges the staffing ratio was changed, from one doctor per 25 patients to one per 35. A psychiatrist who toured the prison for prisoners said he heard the staffing ratio was as high as one doctor per 60 patients. "That's not acceptable," testified Dr. Pablo Stewart.

Lawyers for prisoners also allege mentally ill inmates arriving at the ward are held in limbo sometimes for weeks, without adequate treatment, a process the state calls "orientation status" and says is necessary to evaluate them, but that the doctors say puts inmates in jeopardy. One suicidal patient held three weeks awaiting care killed himself late last year. State lawyers admit his transfer into full care was delayed, but contend it had no bearing on his suicide. continue reading...


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Anonymous said...

There was a specific reason why the inmates with mental problems were incarcerated in mental hospitals, the staff at those healthcare facilities were more capable of handling the needs and care of the inmates. Unfortunately the state penny pinching bean counters never understood the acute care and needs mental inmates required, they incorrectly decided prison was better than the mental hospitals when it came to the healthcare of mentally ill inmates.

Its about time to rethink the blunder custody staff realized would become more of a problem than a solution, when the change was initially began. In hindsight their assumptions were deadly right in their unheard thoughts about the matter.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, everyone forgets this is a lasting legacy of Governor Ronald Reagan. He was the one that said cdc could house the metal inmates as well as the regular crooks. Then implemented the policy.

Anonymous said...

Great another liberal activist judge to rule in favor of criminals. That's all we need.

F. this inmate loven state said...

Thats what California's all about, taking great care of and wasting money on $hitbag criminals and freeloaders. While we let our hardworking elderly folks sink in this cesspool collecting state.

Pat M. Down said...

SVSP contracted four 180 design buildings to house Department of State Hospital Inmate/Patients. It is a ICF (Intermediate Care Facility). Let me point out that inmate who are in those buildings are so violent that they cannot be houses in State Hospitals due to the nature of their committed offence or incarceration history. Most inmates are Sexually Violent Offenders (SVP), they have committed rapes, torture, murders, child rapists, Murder first degree, Arson, Battery with GBI, also they have very poor disciplinary history during incarceration, for example Indecent exposure, Masturbation, sexual battery (Grabbing staff), Multiple fights, Battery by Gassing with caustic substance on Peace Officers & Medial and Psych Staff, Battery on Staff, Assaults etc.
During their stay in SVSP DSH buildings, they collect approximately $10 a week to stay disciplinary fre, have 50” LCD TV in every Pod, (Three pods in each buildings, TV stays on from 7 AM to 10 PM, 10 different Movies each week on DVD) Inmates have groups, day room, music groups, art classes, painting groups. Where they come out to their Pod and get to enjoy the activities for an hour, Four groups each day with 2 hour of yard in the morning. Recreational group activities, where they have access to WII Game system, they play video games for an hour with other inmates. Also Karaoke groups where they have Karaoke and music group for an hour. Individual one on one group therapy with LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Workers).
Inmate in these facility do not eat state food, their food is frozen pre-made TV dinner, with calorie count, salad, milk, juice, pudding, ice cream etc. Also medical diet, such as Calorie restrictions, low sodium, Gluten free, etc. Free medical, dental, plenty of psych and pain killer meds. Each housing unit has a 24/7 nurse, and medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrist in business hours and on call after hours. Most inmates deserve to be there but there are some who are normal and do not need to be there. Also while inmates are in DSH program, they have a free pass to do whatever they want, because they know that District Attorney will never pick up their case and they can assault and batter anyone they want, Masturbate to female MTA’s and other staff because nothing will ever happen to them. The DA will never prosecute they because they cannot be held liable for their actions. This is an inmate’s own words. DSH will do nothing to protect their Staff, no repercussions, no privileges taken from them. One inmate was found with a weapon and he threaten the MTA that he is going to kill her, he was on cuff status (TSP: Temporary Suspension of Program) for two days and back to normal program after that. I guess he cannot he held accountable for his own actions.
Approximately 30% of MTAs (They are also Peace Officers) are on workers compensation due to the injuries they have received from these inmates violent outburst (including gassing, battery, assault, trauma, stress etc.). This last weekend an inmate came out of his cell and started punching an female MTA, broke her nose, slammed her head on the concrete and the wall, when she fell, he sat on top of her and repeatedly punched her face, he was 3/4X the size of her. I can go on and on about staff assaults by these inmates, but I think public need to know where their tax money is going and stop advocating these inmates in this public blog if you have no knowledge of what you are talking about, take a tour and look for yourself, they have more rights and privileges then you.

Anonymous said...

Then the state needs to start putting these guys to death of course the ones that are on death row start letting these criminals know that the start is not going to put up with the bull and they need to stop catering to all their needs that's why they love to be locked up in the first place. Damn inmate lovers!