We are heartened to see two U.S. federal court judges teaming up to tackle California's beleaguered prison system.
Perhaps the power of a unified bench will make the difference in a system that has become an unmitigated mess.
Eleven years ago, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento ordered an overhaul of the prison psychiatric care system, which was out of control. It wasn't until this April that Judge Karlton granted the state approval for its long-range plans to address those inadequacies.
That plan will involve $600 million in construction, including new facilities in Vacaville, Salinas Valley and Folsom. In all, it should give the state an additional 695 beds for mentally ill inmates. And there are a lot of them: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates that 20 percent of its 169,000 inmates have been diagnosed with mental illness.
Judge Karlton's order also calls for correctional officials to start providing more mental health treatment now.
In some ways, it dovetailed with a ruling issued last summer by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco, who turned the entire medical care system over to a receiver, Robert Sillen.
Realizing that overlapping interests could actually result in confusion, the two judges decided to team up for a full-court-press on prisons.
Judges Henderson and Karlton will meet quarterly to dis
cuss reforms and ensure progress. They found, after all, 32 areas in which health care and mental health issues overlap.
They might even be joined by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco, who is overseeing a settlement in a third class-action inmate lawsuit involving dental care.
The team of judges will meet not only with the receiver, they'll also meet with a special master who is monitoring prisoners' mental health treatment.
We agree with state Sen. Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who cheered the arrangement.
"It's a cautionary note to the administration and the Legislature that the courts are going to be a force," she said last week after a hearing in Sacramento. "This really does say, in a sense, 'Don't block us."'
Admittedly, reform will be costly.
Even beyond the $600 million Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to spend to build new mental health facilities, there will be staff and training expenses and more for a system that already costs California taxpayers $8 billion a year.
But these reforms are essential because without them, the state faces millions spending more in lawsuits. Prisons need to be safe environments, for the inmates and for the employees who work there.
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The last thing that should happen is that CDC should be given $600 million with which to build more ad seg and SHU units!!!!!! CDC knows nothing about healing, the worst crimes, including the death of a guard at Chino, are caused by mishandling the mentally ill. Of course everyone wants the money, but the lawsuit payouts will far exceed $600 million when more ad seg and Security Housing Units are added to drive the prisoners even more mad. The National Prison Commission recommended getting the mentally ill completely out of the prisons and jails. The families of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect would like to picket Sacramento over this trainwreck about to take place. Hospitals are needed but not under the control of CDC. A new committee needs to be set up under a different agency that would encompass all the State Hospitals. What good did it do to take away $1 billion and then give the corrupt agency $600 million? They can't do one thing right!!!!Please write to me Susan Randall, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help us protest to get the mentally ill out of CDC and into real hospitals and stop this allocation!!!!!!!!!!!
To be sure hospitals for the mentally ill are needed. But CDC should not get the money because they punish and prosecute the mentally ill for acting out their illnesses. Many deaths have occurred due to the constant torture inflicted on the mentally ill who are locked away in ad seg and cruel isolation units. There are 27,000 people classified as mentally ill. Why do we punish people for being sick? they should all be taken away from the predatory environments of prisons and jails. I hope that the families will come to protest in Sacramento as soon as possible to object to this. What good did it to to take budgets away if only to give over half of them right back to the people who haven't fixed anything yet. The Judges have good intentions, they need to set up a new agency to administer hospitals not CDC
"Prisons aren't hospitals and Prison Goons aren't nurses" the guards should not be in charge of hospitals or anyone in law enforcement. They should be at the beck and call of the medical workers, not vice versa. Deny the $600 million to CDC and stop prosecuting and executing the mentally ill. Where are programs of prevention of mental illness? You know what kind of therapy is going on for the mentally ill in prison? Being taken out of a half sized cell about 4 x 6 feet to listen to the radio for half an hour. That's not therapy. What are the judges thinking! The families need stand up and fight this all the way
CDC understands breaking the body, soul and spirit of people. They do not deserve $600 million to build more torture housing. This would be the same as taking one step forward and ten steps backward. These court "monitors" are collecting big bucks but not done one thing. The Coleman monitors get millions but they cannot do anything to the guards. Best plan to build mental hospitals as far away from prisons and jails as possible. CDC is an expert at creating mental illness, not curing it.
Senator Gloria Romero was part of the Prison Commission study. She knows the recommendation that was made, to get the mentally ill out of the prison system as soon as possible. I am sure that she and the judges mean well but none of them have ever once been able to help a mentally ill prisoner being tortured at the hands of CDC. What are they thinking here giving the worst agency money to build isolation units? This must be about money and power because it sure isn't about helping mentally ill prisoners
Dear Mr. King:
Your coverage of San Quentin Prison revealed a positive attitude of prisoners who are capable of coping in a prison setting. However, millions of tax dollars in California is being wasted on human warehousing of the mentally ill who are not capable of coping in a prison setting.
They are continually written 115 disciplinary actions by guards which postpone their possible parole dates, and these individuals are housed in Segregated Housing Units the (SHU), separated from their families while being housed in solitary confinement.
This is how the prisons treat the mentally ill inmates. I have a son who fits these conditions to a T. as does a school teacher friend of mine in San Diego. There is no help for these prisoners, and I am currently suing the State of California for the cruel or unusual treatment of my son. I have documented records that prove the prison officials blacked out doctors orders, refuse to give my son needed surgeries which has directly caused his wheelchair confinment. He is supplied with with only a mattress on the floor,no wheelchair,not even a towel. He must crawl around in his cell like an animal.
His reason for being in prison was a motorcycle wreck. He has spent 16 years in prison. I have offered to bring Mark home and take care of him but the Parole Board says the 115's disciplinary writeups prevent parole. Mark is in a wheelchair, from their failure to provide medical care. He is legally blind, weighing below 100 lbs and did stand 5'8" tall when entering prison in 1990. He has Hepatitis C, T.B., diabetes that is completely out of control, and refuses to take the insulin because he thinks they are trying to kill him.
They provide no psychiatric care and it is the most inhumane treatment of the mentally ill in the California Prisons that you could ever imagine. My son is in Corcoran State Prison, and is 41 years old.
Thank you for doing the San Quentin report but please expose the other side of prison life for the mentally ill. I am sure my attorney would appear with me on your program. She recently attented a parole board hearing where the officers stated time and time again that they would transfer Mark to a more suitable institution to treat his medical and psychiatric needs. However, in their parole report they failed to state their agreement to such a transfer. Mark remains in the SHU. These actions will be used against the State in the lawsuit which is currently set with a hearing date of January, 2007. Do you know that the prison only treat the productive working prisoners?
The problem with all these responses is where were all these people when these inmates needed their help before they went to prison. Everyone seems to forget that these people committed a crime and came into prison with all types of illnesses. They developed all their health issues way before they came to prison. I agree health care is important, but these inmates receive better care that a great portion of California's poor eldery population, who haven't done anything wrong.
To Lynn, The public didn't know but thousands of people were murdered by medical neglect. The public doesn't know because the media is banned from the prisons. Another constitutional violation. The law says that the prisoners are to receive the same standard of normal community care. That hasn't been happening. Now the same organization that killed all these people due to their callous and evil practices is about to be rewarded with $600 million to build mental hospitals. Reagan is to blame for putting the mentally ill on the streets, he left it to the State to get this done and they dropped the ball. Now we have prisoners who should be in mental hospitals getting much sicker than before they were incarcerated in prisons. CDC does not deserve $600 million to do more harm.
One of the key recommendations in a report by the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, “Confronting Confinement,” released June 8, 2006, was to “commit adequate resources to identify and treat mentally ill prisoners and, simultaneously, to reduce the number of people with mental illness in prisons and jails.” Yes, California desperately needs mental hospitals. But the Department of Corrections is not qualified to administer any kind of mental hospital. Changing their name to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has done nothing to change the punitive and corrupt mentality that prevails within its walls. It will take years if ever to clean this up. The CDCR is a prison. Its administrators have been trained to punish and house prisoners -- period! They should not be funded to build mental hospitals. Mental hospitals need to be administered by staffs with the knowledge, skills, and experience with mental illness.
Barbara, Arroyo Grande, CA
Shocking!! That is the word that comes to mind when reviewing the treatment of mentally ill in the prison system today. We are not in the dark ages, however our treatment plan for the mentally ill is far behind the knowledge we hold on what works and what does not. Giving CDC one dime for treatment of the mentally ill is criminal to say the least. CDC is not trained, equipped or even motivated to treat the mentally ill. They must be placed in hospitals with trained, caring personnel and methods of treatment. Get the mentally ill out of the prisons and into hospitals saving taxpayers millions of dollars in guard salaries and law suits from abuse and maltreatment.
Hello there Lynn and all you other prison employees, let me tell you where I was at the very minute my son left walking down the driveway with (Terri ) the girl that was killed that night on the motorcycle in October 1990. I was standing at the kitchen window cooking dinner, and told him to hurry back because dinner would soon be ready. I asked him not to leave but he said he had to take terri to work. I told him to give her the keys and let her go by herself. He said no she wants me to take her.
Her boy friend had beat her up that afternoon, my son felt sorry for her and her young baby, who was less than a year old.
When he got her to work, which was at a bar. She had lied to my son she did not have to go to work. She only said that just to get away from the boy friend, and she knew my son had money. He drove her on a motorcycle.
She literally took his wallet as it was laying on the table and started buying herself drinks. He stayed with her because, he was worried about her and the baby who had been left with the boyfriend. He tried many times to get her to return back to my house.
Little did I know at the time that the boyfriend and the baby was in the cottage behind my house, which was my son's living quarters.
I had purchased diapers and milk for the baby on numerous occasions because, my son would beg me to do so. He was very protective of that baby even though it was not his.
Mark, my son had been blind in his left eye since child birth from extensive oxygen use which killed the optic nerve in the left eye. Plus there was minor brain damage in three different areas of the brain from early oxygen deprivation following the c-section of his birth at 32 weeks into the pregnancy.
To sum up a long story at 1:07 a.m. the motorcycle clipped the right rear side of a street sweeper. They were headed south on Stine Road in Bakersfield.
Mark said Terri had wanted to go out to White Lane to try and get her car started, where she had parked and left her car because it had broken down on her earlier that day.
There were no witnesses. Terri was killed on impact as the left side of her head was taken off by the street sweeper and every pelvic bone in her body was broken.
Mark was thrown from the motorcycle. Broke every rib in his body and punctured his lungs. His left arm just above the elbow was almost severed, and his spleen burst on impact with the concrete.
Mark was wearing a light weight, light tan jacket. Test showed there was not any of Terri's blood or brain matter or saliva on the back of his jacket.
Mark spent 21 days in the hospital in a coma. Which I paid for along with the health insurance I had on him.
When my niece called me and said Mark and a girl had been killed in a motorcycle wreck, she had heard it on the radio.
I began calling and doing everything to locate someone who knew something. I also went to the cottage and found the door locked. finally after a long period of knocking on the door. The boyfriend, (Doug, which his mother was a school teacher in Bakersfield.) He finally opened the door and I saw the baby crawling around on the floor. I started screaming at him "where is Mark and Terri, didn't they come home last night, where have you been all night"? He appeared dazed and possibly drunk." I asked him how he got into the cottage, he said he had been there asleep the whole night. He said he was there when they left on the motorcycle. I was screaming, "and who's been taking care of this baby that's crawling on the floor"? I told him to get dressed and get into my house, we had to find Terri and Mark. He didn't appear to be any more interested than a man in the moon.
I had begged Doug a thousand times in the past not to keep repairing that motorcycle. He did so he would have transportion at my son's expense. Mark couldn't repair anything. Doug always drove the motorcycle. I asked him why he didn't take Terri to work if he was there when they left. He told me he was drunk and wanted to sleep, so Terri got Mark to take her. I wanted him out of my house. So I gave him some money for a motel room, milk and food for the baby.
I know Mark never drove at night because of his eyesight. When Mark came out of the coma, he said he had stopped the motorcycle in a parking lot at the corner of Stockdale Hwy and Stine Road and had let Terri drive. Shortly after that she hit the street sweeper, he said he had reached to grab the handle bar with his left hand when he saw the rear of the street sweeper but it was too late.
the tip of his left little finger had been cut off during the accident. I hired a lawyer by the name of Doug Moffet in Bakersfied. Moffet was upset with Mark because he would not plead guilty and take a plea bargain of manslaughter. I tried to talk to Mark, but there was no way to talk him out of his decision that he was not guilty. It went to a Jury trial. Doug allegedly told the D.A. that I tried to bribe him into testifying when I gave him the money. Doug Moffet refused to put me on the witness stand because, the D.A. had threatened to prosecute me if I testified. I insisted on testifying anyway but he would never call me to testify.
Mark did take the witness stand in his own defense. When he was asked if he had taken a driving school for a previous DUI. Mark said no because, it was several years back and he did not remember. The D.A. pulled out the driving school record.
The jury obviously took it that he was lying. I don't believe that they took into account that he had just been in a coma for 21 days. The court did order a Positron Emission Tomography test (PET test) on Mark's brain, and they recommendd an MRI follow up because, there appeard to be some areas of decreased uptake in the PET test. The attorney Doug Moffet failed to ask the Court to order the MRI saying he was not a doctor and he had no idea what this all would prove anyway. He refused to believe that Mark had brain damage.
Long story short, Mark was found guilty of second degree murder, vehicular Felony Manslaughter and driving on a suspended license.
District Attorney Ed Jagels pulled every law he could find and charged Mark with everyone of them. Since Mark's conviction of 2nd degree murder there have been 11 others charged with 2nd degree murder in Kern County for similar charges.
Terri Parnell's blood alcohol level at the time of the wreck was 3.2 Mark's alcohol level was 1.0
the Jury could not believe that she could be driving with an alcohol content of that level. Little did the Jury know that drinking alcohol with that young Mother (Terri) who was approximately 23 years old was an every day event, and was allegedly a seasoned alcoholic. Child Protective Services had already taken two (2) other natural born children from her and placed them under their custody and care. This new baby was the son by Doug.
Well if you have read this far, I will bore you with what really saddens me beyond any stretch of the imagination.
I was prepared to let Mark die in the hospital. He fought to live and did live. Mark was trying to help Terri, not kill her. He was trying to protect her and her baby. Soon after Mark was sent to prison the Child Protective Agency allegedly took the baby from Doug.
Terri had told me that her family did not care anything about her. that her mother hated her, and would not help her financially with the baby. On many ocassions I drove Terri and her baby to the store and bought milk and diapers for her. It made me very sad and very worried to see these young people in such a desperate method of living. I was continually trying to help them, and at the same time keep my son at home, and his so-called friends at an arms distance, where I could look after a safe enviroment for my son Mark because, I knew Mark could never hold down a job. At the time of the motorcycle wreck Mark was 24 years old. Just a couple of months prior to this event I had gotten Mark on social Security Disability. Before that I had supported him by myself. I did that because, I realized that I would not live forever and Mark would need some financial assistance should I die. It was the Social Security Disability money that was in Mark's wallet the night of the fatal accident. The wallet was empty when it was finally given to me. Until this day I keep that wallet in my suitcase, and it goes everywhere with me as a reminder of what too much money can do to someone when they cannot control their own affairs. I had begged the Social Security not to mail those checks to Mark but the refused to assign him a payee as I had requested.
I am not blaming anyone for Mark's tragedy and the sentence of 20 years to life. The Court did what they thought was best to protect the public at the time. They were not aware of all the facts or I believe the outcome would have been much different. I did not have enough money to buy justice. A couple of months after the trial the Attorney Doug Moffet claimed to me that he lost all of Mark's records. He even wrote a letter stating he was an ineffective counsel.
To date I have spent well over $50,000.00 on Attorneys trying to prove this wrong to the Courts. Only to have attorneys fail to act as they claim they will when I pay them, and then refuse to refund my money.
In actuality Mark should have died at birth but the doctor did what he thought was the right thing by making every effort to superceed mother nature and saved Mark's life. I don't blame the doctor. However, I have been the one that had to live with the doctor's decision, and Mark has paid the price his entire life from the results of the brain damage.
There is not a day that passes that I do not think of Terri and her baby. If I could I would have let Mark go to release him from his suffering. I would have done almost anything to have saved Terri's life for the sake of her baby. That
The fact of the matter is that many have died due to cruel and unusual ill treatment from California State prisons, why would U.S. District Courts allow the act of murder to continue under the disguise of mental hospitals in any California prisons?
CDC should never be allowed to receive $600 million to build bogus hospitals in California prisons to warehouse the mentally ill. The National Prison Commission recommended getting the mentally ill completely out of the prisons. The families of mentally ill inmates along with the Union members of the United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect know the suffering, preventable psychological abuse along with murders and suicides the mentally ill in prisons have endured. Why should the mentally ill be continued to be punished at the hands of CDC for being mentally disabled?
I say no to CDC receiving $600 million for bogus hospital which would be nothing else but more as seg security housing units to enable the mentally ill to be tortured psychological and physically by CDC who know nothing in treatment of disabled mentally ill humans It’s time that the mentally ill should be allowed to receive proper treatment in a safe environment designed especially in treating and programming to a better life for mentally disabled persons. I believe that the late President Reagan should have supported the mentally ill with programs in housing along with treatment of the mentally ill instead of just letting them out to roam the street to fend for themselves as he did during he’s time as president.
Gina Duran 06/17/06
The simle fact is that a mentally ill person does not act as a normal person does. Second fact: an estimated 20.000 mentally ill people are in California prisons. Simple question: why are they in prison? Observation: prisons are not mental institutions. Result: mentally ill have great difficulty living in an environment that demands conformity with the rules, something they are not equipped to do. Another simple question: why would a prison system be put in charge of the mentally ill?
Why would a FAILED prison system be put in in charge of anything?
The mentally ill people who are stuck in California prisons, where they are not suppose to be, should be place in treatment facilities where they can be treated and not punished, simply for being mentally disabled. They need to be transitioned into programs with support so to teach them skills on how to fucntion reasonably and law abidingly into society.
California runs one of the largest and one of the most violent prison systems in the nation.
Inmate medical care remains extremely poor.The over crowded prison population, is at a record high,which is expected to grow from 171,000 to 193,000 in five years.
The annual prison budget has swelled from $6 billion to $8 billion, since Gov. Schwarzenegger took office in 2003.
This is a completely failed system. Key reforms have not been met.
Handing over $600 million to the California Department of so-called Rehabilitation, is absolutely insane,knowing their present track record.The Prison Commission Report,on June 8th,2006,says it all. To view the full report, go to www.prisoncommission.org/report.
The $600 million is not going to improve, an already deplorable failed system,who only know, how to deal with punishment,they are not medically trained. The quack doctors,hired, participate,in these state murders by, not speaking up, failing to utilize their power, to enforce the oath they made. Hypocritical oath,that is.
The mentally ill are housed in the "Hole", for acting out their illness,because their medications are denied,causing further deterioration.
California has over 27 suicides per 100,000 inmates,over 50% of suicides occur in Administrative Segregation, known as the "Hole", this is California Department of Rehabilitation's solution to mental health treatment. Inmates time in the "Hole" is being increased, which further increases the risk of suicide and deterioration.
This Industrial Corporation,is nothing more than a slaughter house.
California's prison health care system is so bad,killing an average of one inmate a week, because of incompetence or neglect,that a federal judge recently, seized control of prison medical care, and turned it over to a receiver. Inmates are still dying,help is not happening fast enough,only the players are being changed.
If these were public schools or publicly traded corporations, we'd shut them down.”
Our lawmakers need to think intelligently and smart on crime, when it comes time to decide, between building more prisons, or allocating more money to finding ways to keep people out of a cell, such as Mr. George Soros has done,he really identifies,the root of the problem, the cause of these massive incarcerations.
Open Society Institute, chairman George Soros, has announced his intention to provide $10 million in funding, to select U.S. cities, to build Comprehensive Public Drug Treatment Centers.