Federal judge: ‘Constitutional violations remain’ in California prison system


April 6, 2013 | Shannon Vitiritti | Examiner

Credits: Wikimedia Commons - Kuailong

Credits: Wikimedia Commons – Kuailong

A federal judge struck another blow against California’s beleaguered prison system on Friday. The judge felt the mental health care of inmate in California prisons had not improved to a level sufficient to end 17-years of judicial stewardship over the prison system.

On January 7, Gov. Jerry Brown filed a motion with the court to end judicial oversight of the prison mental health system by the courts. Brown’s larger ambition was to reform the prison system, something that is not possible with the court needing to approve any changes.

California’s prison system was deemed “cruel and unusual punishment” by the Supreme Court in 2011. The Supreme Court reached that determination based on severe overcrowding within the prison system. The overstuffed prisons were unable to provide reasonable accommodations, including medical care, for the inmates under their charge.

The Supreme Court ruling led to the release of many nonviolent offenders and proposed changes to the controversial “Three Strikes” law.

The motion filed in January featured testimony from prisoners obtained without the knowledge of their lawyers. The motion also exposed problems within the penal system mental health facilities.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton wrote in the ruling that within the prison system “ongoing constitutional violations remain,” and that the conditions amounted to “deliberate indifference.”

Only 13 out of 33 California prisons meet the minimum standard for adequate care as determined by the Supreme Court ruling.

View the article on Examiner.

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