According to RBGG’s Michael Bien, “We are ending up with more acutely ill people in prison. It is a bad place for them to be. They get sicker, and suicides are up.”
Michael was quoted in Dan Morains’ “Cal Matters” newsletter on August 15 that notes a 30% vacancy rate for psychiatrists in the state prison system and highlights the rising suicide rate among inmates. According to statistics provided by Michael for the article, the suicide rate in the California state prison system in 2016 was 21.8 per 100,000 inmates and had grown to 26.3 per 100,000 in 2018. This year the rate is on pace to be 24.6 per 100,000.
Michael is lead attorney for the class of prisoners with mental illness in state prisons in Coleman v. Newsom – the long-running class action first filed in 1990. The federal case is before U.S. District Judge Kimberly Jo Mueller of Sacramento, who wrote this week that “essential remedial measures cannot continue to be delayed unnecessarily or indefinitely.”