Federal Court Judge Kimberly Mueller issued an order on April 19, 2017 in Coleman v. Brown requiring the State of California to fully comply with Program Guide timelines for transfers to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization by May 15, or face contempt fines of $1000 per day per patient. She is also considering the same for access to Mental Health Crisis Beds and ordered an evidentiary hearing on that issue for August 29. Her order builds on a March 24, 2017 order which made preliminary findings on this issue. A copy of the April 19 order is available here: Order that Defs’ Come into Compliance with Program Guide Timeline
Timely access to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, as the Court notes, has been the subject of numerous court orders over many, many years. Plaintiffs, represented for over 20 years by RBGG, are hopeful that this method will result in permanent compliance with this important requirement.
According to KQED Radio coverage of the order: “Attorney Michael Bien, who sued to ensure mentally ill prisoners get the help they need, says that hundreds of people are waiting to get into inpatient programs at state hospitals and special psychiatric units within the prisons. ‘Some people died while on the waitlist,’ he said. ‘We’re talking about a group of people where the doctors in the prison system agree that they need to get inpatient care, and the people running the inpatient program also agree the person qualifies. But instead of going, they’re on a waitlist.’”
The Civil Contempt structure set forth in the Order is one that plaintiffs’ counsel suggested and is intended to comply with rigorous due process requirements.
Selected Media Coverage:
Judge threatens $1,000-a-day fines over mentally ill inmates, Associated Press (AP), April 19, 2017
Judge threatens state with $1000 per day fine over treatment of mentally ill inmates, Sacramento Bee, April 19, 2017
Judge threatens to fine California prisons for delayed mental health treatment, KQED Radio, April 20, 2017