April 8, 2013 | Jenny Jiang | What the Folly?!
California officials and their consultants violated the rules of ethics when they interviewed mentally ill prisoners without permission and used the information collected to justify state’s request to terminate federal oversight of the state’s mental health system, a federal judge ruled on Friday.
“The court finds that Defendants [state officials] violated their professional duty,”wrote Karlton. “Defendants [California officials] used the information they gleaned from the inmates against the inmates, in support of their motion to terminate and to vacate the injunction.”
Without the experts’ reports, the state lacks sufficient evidence to support its motion to terminate federal oversight of California’s prison mental health system.
Attorneys representing the prisoners said they were not notified of the state experts’ site visits or of their intention to interview inmates about the adequacy of the California’s prison mental health services.
State officials claimed that their experts’ interactions with the inmates were“innocuous”. However, Karlton pointed out that the state experts’ reports made clear that the “inmate interviews were not…simply occasional, unintended by-products of the inspections.”
“Rather, at every facility the defense experts visited, they without fail sought out class members – inmates with serious mental disorders – for their interviews,” wrote Karlton. “The interviews were among the critical pieces of information that formed the ‘basis’ for the experts’ report”
As a result, Karlton found, the information gathered from the interviews with prisoners are “tainted.”
Karlton also noted that the state-hired experts’ prison inspections and interviews took place around the same time when the state obtained a court order to block the prisoners’ experts from conducting site inspections to verify “efforts to reduce prison overcrowding” – the underlying cause of the state’s inability to provide timely and adequate mental health treatment to prisoners.
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