Citing "significant and troubling evidence" that inmates are not receiving adequate mental health care, a federal judge Thursday expanded court oversight to include the Department of State Hospitals.
Judge Lawrence Karlton said prisoners' lawyers said severe staffing shortages, wait lists and even "denial of basic necessities including clean underwear" may be harming mentally ill prisoners. His order requires a court-appointed monitor to report back in 75 on those conditions. The judge said he is holding off on issuing further orders until he receives that report.
The Department of State Hospitals had no immediate response. Michael Bien, lead attorney for prisoners in the long-running class-action suit, called Karlton's latest ruling "pretty much a victory."
Karlton's order Thursday is the latest in a long string of rulings in the 1990 class-action case finding unconstitutionally poor levels of care for the mentally ill in California's prison system. The state's bid in January to end oversight was rejected by Karlton.