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Prison Agency in Contempt of Court

October 29, 1994|From Staff and Wire reports

SACRAMENTO — A federal judge is holding the California Department of Corrections in contempt for failing to provide adequate mental health care at the medical prison at Vacaville, and has taken the initial steps toward fining the state $10,000 a day.

In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton also appointed former prison administrator Alan Breed as a special master to oversee mental health care at Vacaville's California Medical Facility, the main prison for physically and mentally infirm inmates.

Breed must refine a mental health plan within 120 days, and report to the judge on whether state officials are cooperating. The judge delayed the fines until he decides whether officials are implementing Breed's plan for treating the approximately 1,000 severely mentally ill inmates at the prison.

Breed, a court-appointed mediator in a class-action suit filed on behalf of inmates, wrote the plan.

Corrections officials vowed to appeal.

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