Attorneys at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld and Disability Rights Advocates have filed a federal class action against Santa Clara County on behalf of prisoners with mobility disabilities to remedy widespread and long-standing inaccessibility issues throughout the Santa Clara County Jail system.  A copy of the complaint in Cole v. County of Santa Clara, which was filed on November 14, 2016, is attached here.

According to the complaint, “The Jail system is the fifth largest jail system in the State of California.  Due to the lack of accessible cells, showers, and living units in the County Jails, many individuals with mobility disabilities are segregated in restrictive medical units despite the fact they do not require ongoing medical care, and/or are held in higher security and more restrictive settings than they otherwise would be but for their disabilities.  They are further denied access to educational, religious, and rehabilitative programs due to physical and programmatic barriers, and cannot even use the toilet and show safely due to a lack of accessible features.  Inmates are not informed of their rights, are not provided with a method for requesting reasonable modifications to policies and practices, and are denied access to a functioning and meaningful grievance system.”

The complaint goes on to state that “Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants as a remedy for their systemic discrimination against inmates with mobility disabilities . . . Defendants’ acts and omissions have resulted in the unequal treatment of, and severe harm to, individuals with mobility disabilities housed at the County Jails.  Such discrimination violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and California Government Code Sec. 11153, et seq.” Plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages.

Selected press coverage:

Disabled inmates sue Santa Clara County’s troubled jails, The Mercury News, November 16, 2016.