As reported by the Sacramento Bee on November 30, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller has appointed Charles Stevens, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, “to investigate whether state prison officials intentionally filed misleading and false information with the court over the quality of psychiatric care being provided to more than 30,000 California inmates.” 

On October 31, the court released a report compiled by Dr. Michael Golding, chief psychiatrist for California state prisons.  According to the Bee, “The chief psychiatrist for California’s prison system is accusing state officials of providing inaccurate and misleading data to a federal court and to lawyers for prison inmates fighting to improve psychiatric care inside state prisons, according to court documents.” Names of inmate patients and corrections employees have been redacted from the version of the report released to the public.

Speaking on behalf plaintiffs, RBGG’s Lisa Ells noted in the Daily Journal on December 18, “There is a level of distrust about the defendant’s data.”  According to the DJ, ” She [Ells] said her side is asking ‘to do our own monitoring’ of current treatment outcomes.  Ells also urged the inquiry look into what she called the ‘marginalization’ of psychiatrists and their recommendations within the department.”

The redacted Golding report, exhibits and declaration are available here:

(Redacted) REPORT of MICHAEL GOLDING, 10-31-2018

(Redacted) EXHIBITS to Decl of MICHAEL GOLDING, 10-31-2018 (55MB)

(Redacted) Declaration of MICHAEL GOLDING, 10-31-2018

In an article on October 10, 2018, Prison psychiatry chief’s report accuses state of misleading court on mental health care, the Bee quotes RBGG’s Michael Bien, lead counsel for the 30,000 California state prison inmates who need mental health care, on the significance of this development. “’There’s a fundamental trust issue here,’ Bien said, adding that the report indicates Golding visited state prisons with a team and determined that the data being issued by CDCR did not mesh with what he was seeing on the ground. ‘He’s alleging they played around with how they counted things and they played around with time frames.’”

Earlier in the article the Bee notes, “The issue is critical to the inmates’ attorneys, who were within days of signing a stipulation with the state in which they were going to agree to a reduction in the number of prison psychiatrists, an agreement that was being made because of the data the state had provided, Bien said.  Under that plan, the state’s 405 psychiatrist positions would be reduced by 79 to a total of 326.  ‘We almost signed it,’ Bien said. ‘We came within a couple of days of signing the stipulation.’  Now, that deal is off the table and a hearing is expected in coming weeks on the allegations raised by Golding.”
Selected Media Coverage
Special master will evaluate prisons mental health care, Daily Journal, December 18, 2018
Whistleblower: California prison officials misled judge, New York Times/AP, October 31, 2018
Key documents:
More information about RBGG’s ongoing representation of California prisoners with mental illness here.