California Jail Denies Civil Rights To Mentally Ill Inmates: Feds

Written by on April 23, 2021

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alameda County in Northern California violated civil rights by failing to offer correct psychological well being providers, particularly in a jail the place dozens of individuals have dedicated suicide, in response to federal report launched Thursday.

The U.S. Division of Justice took goal at situations for individuals with critical psychological well being points, particularly within the Santa Rita Jail, the place a lady killed herself April 2. It was the second suicide on the jail this 12 months and the 20th since 2014.

The federal report mentioned there was “affordable trigger” to consider that situations on the jail in Dublin violated the U.S. Structure and the People with Disabilities Act.

The report mentioned the county failed to offer providers to individuals with psychological well being disabilities, together with these vulnerable to suicide, too usually places them in isolation, and unnecessarily ships them off to psychological hospitals or different restrictive housing.

“On any given day in Alameda County, a whole bunch of persons are institutionalized for prolonged stays at considered one of a number of giant, locked psychiatric services” or at John George Psychiatric Hospital, mentioned a Division of Justice assertion.

Individuals with psychological well being disabilities “discover themselves unnecessarily biking out and in of psychiatric establishments and jails as a result of they lack entry to confirmed providers that may enable them to get well and take part in group life,” Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Division’s Civil Rights Division mentioned within the assertion.

Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Division that operates the jails, mentioned the division already was engaged on coping with points talked about within the report and in an ongoing 2018 federal lawsuit that made comparable allegations.

A federal decide is overseeing the progress, he mentioned.

The Santa Rita Jail has about 2,200 inmates, making it one of many largest jails or prisons within the nation.

Kelly estimated that near half of the inmates on the jail have psychological well being points, a lot of them critical.

“On the finish of the day, this boils right down to thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of {dollars} in staffing … in clinicians and services,” he mentioned. “We want a correct prison justice psychological well being facility that’s linked to the (total) psychological well being system. We’re engaged on all of that.”

This story has been corrected to state that 20 deaths on the Santa Rita Jail since 2014 have been dominated suicides.

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