California prison officials have opened a new psychiatric center for inmates, contending the $24-million treatment facility is proof the state is ready to shed federal oversight of mental-health care for prisoners.
The new building at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville will provide outpatient treatment for mentally ill inmates who do not require 24-hour care. Its opening was accompanied by positioning for the courts.
“It’s time for the federal courts to recognize the progress the state has made and end costly and unnecessary federal oversight,” Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in prepared remarks.
The kind of care that California gives mentally ill inmates is the subject of fierce contention in U.S. District Court, where the state has filed a legal bid to end federal oversight as well as lift prison population caps that California concedes it cannot currently meet. A document filed Friday shows state's prison population remains 49% above what the facilities were designed to hold, with Central California Women's Facility at 82% above its design capacity.