Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento issued an order on April 12 that gives final approval to a policy that will provide psychiatric care to incarcerated persons in California prisons that had been agreed upon in 2020 and monitored for 18 months by the court-appointed special master. In doing so, the Court rejected an attempt by the State of California to expand the scope of telepsychiatry to include even patients with the most severe mental health conditions. The order is here.
“Any proposed expansion of the telepsychiatry policy advanced without specific findings to support the expansion from the special master and his experts is problematic,” Mueller wrote. “The court cannot and will not entertain the proposal, which is widely outside the scope of the policy the special master was tasked with monitoring, as presented here.”
An article in Courthouse News quotes RBGG attorney Amy Xu about the judge’s order: “The court acted correctly to prevent California from switching entirely to remote psychiatric care for incarcerated patients with the most severe mental health conditions, We urge the defendants to implement the final telepsychiatry policy, which draws a balance between live and remote psychiatry that is consistent with the relevant literature and prioritizes patient safety.”