A federal court judge gave final approval on August 18, 2015 to the settlement in Hernandez v. County of Monterey, finalizing a preliminary settlement which had been first announced on May 11. The class action was filed in May 2013 in federal court in San Jose seeking better conditions at the Monterey County Jail. According to the terms of the order, plaintiffs and defendants will develop a series of implementation plans to enhance services at the Jail by October 15, 2015.
A Monterey Herald story on August 20, Monterey County Jail improvements underway, judge OK’s settlement. quotes RBGG’s Mike Bien on the progress that is being made in implementing improvements at the Jail, “I would say, so far so good. I think we are optimistic about this. We would not have settled if we didn’t think there was good faith from the defendants.”
The settlement came in the wake of a preliminary injunction order on April 14 which required sweeping improvements to the Jail’s tuberculosis screening program, process for ensuring prisoners are continued on medications prescribed for them prior to their arrest, and program for treating prisoners who are suffering from potentially fatal alcohol and drug detoxification. Prisoners with disabilities will no longer be categorically excluded from a host of programs and services at the Jail. And, the County will have to remove hanging points from the Jail’s segregation units—suicide hazards that the court found had been used by four prisoners to commit suicide in the past 5 years, including one suicide earlier this year.