For 22 years, the federal court in Sacramento has pounded the California Department of Corrections with orders and injunctions and slapped it with sanctions to get the state prison system to clean up its mental health treatment mess.
Now, attorneys for mentally ill inmates are trying for another attention getter: punitive damages.
In a trial underway in front of U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, plaintiffs want a jury to find nine corrections department employees liable for malice and oppression to rectify abuses they say their client suffered during a brutal 2012 cell extraction.
Along with general damages, the attorneys say a punitive award would send a message to the prison system and its staff on how to carry out the best practices – and avoid the worst – when inmates have full-blown psychotic breakdowns.
Lost on California’s brutal prison industry is the notion that he Constitution requires prisons to provide incarcerated persons with necessary mental health care and to treat prisoners in a humane manner that does not punish them for mental illness.
Read the whole story in the Sacramento Bee