Coleman v. Newsom
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) AND ANSWERS
(Last Updated December 2022)
Using these materials: Below is a list of questions that are often asked by our clients in the Coleman case, along with answers to those questions. We apologize for this impersonal response to your letter. This FAQ will be updated periodically, so you should pay attention to the “Last Updated” date at the top of this page.
- What is the Coleman case?. 2
- What can I do to help?. 2
- What is happening with prison release programs?. 2
- What are the different levels of mental health care provided by CDCR?. 3
- What should I do if I am feeling suicidal?. 5
- Is my clinician allowed to disclose what I tell him or her in therapy sessions to custody staff?. 5
- What should I do if I want a higher level of mental health care?. 6
- What should I do if staff want to lower my level of care and I want to remain at the current level?. 6
- What should I do if I am having problems with my mental health medications?. 6
- Why were my medications changed recently? Can I do anything to get this reversed? 7
- Can I get treatment for my Substance Use Disorder in CDCR?. 7
- What should I do if my mental health was a factor in my receiving a RVR?. 8
- What should I do if I have not received a reply to my HC-602 appeal?. 9
- I am paroling soon. What services will be available to me once I parole?. 9
- Why am I being kept indoors when it is hot outside?. 10
- What can I do about staff misconduct against me?. 11
- Can you help me with my individual lawsuit?. 12
- Can you help me to get a transfer or to stop a transfer?. 12
- What if I am an EOP class member being housed in a Reception Center?. 13
- Can you assist me with my medical care concerns?. 13
- What should I do if I need single cell status or have other problems concerning single cell status?. 14
- What if I am a Coleman class member who will be transferred or has transferred to a county jail for a court proceeding?. 15
1. What is the Coleman case?
Coleman is a class-action lawsuit about mental health care in California prisons. The Coleman litigation began in 1990 and continues to this day because CDCR has never fully complied with the many orders issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Coleman class includes all people incarcerated in California prisons who receive mental health care. There are no money damages in Coleman. It is only about improving the care in the prisons.
For more information, your prison’s law library should have the following items for you to read:
- Mental Health Services Delivery System Program Guide and appendices (last revised in 2021).
- Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995).
- Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, 922 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. & N.D, Cal. 2009).
- Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. 493 (2011).
- Coleman Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013).
- Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014).
2. What can I do to help?
If you know about problems in the prison mental health care system, we would like to know about them. You can write to us at:
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
P.O. Box 390
San Francisco, CA 94104-0390
We do not provide a personal response to most letters. We read every letter and keep a record of the information you provide.
3. What is happening with prison release programs?
In 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that California must bring its prison population down because overcrowding was so severe that the system could not deliver humane medical and mental health care. In May 2015, the State achieved the Court-ordered population target of 137.5% of design capacity. As of March 2016, the overall population of the CDCR prisons was about 135.3% of design capacity. The crowding reduction order covers all of CDCR’s prisons as a group, not individually. Individual prisons, yards, and buildings may be (and often are) more crowded. As of December 2022, more than one third of the people incarcerated in CDCR are on the mental health caseload. Throughout the pandemic, RBGG and the Prison Law Office have been working hard to reduce overcrowding in the prisons and protect incarcerated people from COVID-19. The Court has stated that overcrowding of people with mental illness in prisons is the primary cause of CDCR’s ongoing inability to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care.
If you would like more information about credit-earning rules, early parole opportunities (such as medical parole, youth offender parole, elderly parole), the Alternative Custody Program (allows certain class members incarcerated for non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offense crimes to serve up to the last 24 months of their prison terms in a residential home, a drug treatment program, or an alternative care facility), Proposition 36 (which permits resentencing for qualifying third-strike incarcerated persons whose third strike was not serious or violent), or Proposition 47 (which allows people incarcerated in CDCR who were convicted and sentenced for felonies under the old version of the laws to ask the superior court that sentenced them to reduce their crimes to misdemeanors and resentence them), please let us know and we can send you some information.
4. What are the different levels of mental health care provided by CDCR?
If you have a mental illness, CDCR must provide you with treatment. The level of treatment depends on your symptoms and needs. People often change levels of care. The levels are:
- Correctional Clinical Case Management System (CCCMS). This is outpatient care available in any mainline unit. Your primary clinician should see you at least once every 90 days, and you should have a treatment team (IDTT) meeting once a year. You should receive more frequent contact if you need it.
- If you are in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg or ASU) you should transfer within 30 days to a special CCCMS unit called Short-Term Restrictive Housing (STRH). If you have a SHU term you should transfer within 30 days to a special CCCMS unit called Long-Term Restrictive Housing (LTRH). For patients in both STRH and LTRH your primary clinician should see you at least weekly and Psychiatric Technicians (Psych Techs) should complete daily rounds. You should get at least 90 minutes of groups or other structured treatment weekly, and you should get more out-of-cell time and in-cell activities.
- Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP). This is outpatient care for people who need more treatment or whose symptoms are so severe that they cannot do well in mainline. CDCR runs the EOP program in separate housing units at certain prisons. If you are at the EOP level of care, you should get at least ten hours of treatment per week. This could include group therapy, community meetings, or recreational therapy. Work or education may count toward four hours of treatment. You should see your primary clinician at least once a week either one-on-one or in a group. If your primary clinician sees you in groups, you should still them one-on-one at least every other week. You should see your treatment team (IDTT) at least every 90 days and. If your treatment team decides there is a clinical reason that you should get less than 10 hours of treatment, they can put you on a status called EOPMod but they must document why and hold IDTTs for you at least monthly.
- If you are in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg or ASU) you should be transferred within 30 days to a special unit called the EOP ASU Hub. If you have a SHU term you should be transferred within 60 days to a special unit called the Psychiatric Services Unit. You should still get 10 hours of treatment weekly and primary clinician contacts weekly.
- Mental Health Crisis Beds (MHCB). For people in an immediate crisis, the CDCR runs inpatient MHCB programs with 24-hour nursing care. Patients who remain in crisis for 10 days or more must be evaluated for one of the inpatient programs. If you are released from an MHCB back to a lower level of care, you should be seen once a day by a clinician or nurse for the first 5 days after your release from MHCB.
- Acute Psychiatric Program (APP or Acute). Acute is an inpatient program for people who need longer-term care than an MHCB. There is no time limit, but patients typically stay in APP for 30 to 45 days. Male patients may go to the CDCR Psychiatric Inpatient Programs (PIPs) at California Medical Facility in Vacaville (CMF-PIP), California Health Care Facility in Stockton (CHCF-PIP), or San Quentin State Prison (SQ-PIP). Female patients may go to the CDCR PIP at California Institution for Women in Chino (CIW-PIP), or the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) Program at Patton State Hospital (PSH).
- Intermediate Care Facility (ICF). The ICF program provides longer-term inpatient care. There is no time limit on length of stay. There are ICF programs for male patients at the CDCR Psychiatric Inpatient Programs (PIPs) at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP-PIP), California Medical Facility (CMF-PIP), California Health Care Facility (CHCF-PIP), San Quentin State Prison (SQ-PIP); or at the Department of State Hospital (DSH) programs at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) or Coalinga State Hospital (CSH). Female patients may go to the CDCR PIP at California Institution for Women (CIW-PIP) or to the DSH program at Patton State Hospital (PSH).
5. What should I do if I am feeling suicidal?
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself—tell a custody officer, a psych tech, a nurse, or any other available staff person. When any staff member learns of a person’s suicidal thoughts or behavior, they are required to immediately notify a member of the mental health staff, according to the Coleman Program Guide. The person will then be placed under direct observation until a clinician arrives for evaluation. If you are in distress, you should tell a staff member and if that is unsuccessful, you should file a sick call slip (7362) to urgently speak to a member of the mental health staff. They have been trained to respond appropriately in these situations.
Please note that while as attorneys we have a duty to keep your communications confidential, there is an exception in cases when we believe that you are a danger to yourself or others based upon what you have written to us. In those cases, we may contact the Coleman Project team (CPT), a group of clinicians in CDCR Headquarters who will then contact your institution and ask that you be seen by a mental health clinician to ensure that you are not in imminent harm. If we contact the CPT, we protect your confidential information as much as possible and simply ask that a mental health staff member visit you as soon as possible.
6. Is my clinician allowed to disclose what I tell him or her in therapy sessions to custody staff?
Under California law, a clinician is allowed to reveal confidential information provided by a patient in therapy only in very narrow circumstances. CDCR has developed a detailed policy implementing this rule in the prison system as part of the Coleman Program Guide. If you are interested in seeing the confidentiality policy, please let us know and we can send you a copy.
The rules of professional ethics for mental health clinicians require that your clinician discuss the limits of confidentiality with you at the outset of your relationship and again during the course of the relationship if necessary. If your clinician has not yet done so, you should talk to your clinician about what type of communications will not be kept confidential. Generally, when a clinician evaluates you for a Rules Violation Report (RVR), for a court (for instance, to determine whether you are incompetent to stand trial), as a potential Offender with a Mental Health Disorder (OMHD), as a potential Sexually Violent Predator (SVP), or for the Board of Prison Hearings, that information is not confidential. We strongly recommend that you ask your clinician about the confidential nature of your therapy.
7. What should I do if I want a higher level of mental health care?
If you feel that you are not coping well at your current level of mental health care, you need to talk to your primary clinician and your clinical team about your symptoms and why you need a higher level of care. If you are having difficulty seeing your clinicians, you can submit a sick call slip, requesting a meeting with a doctor. This request slip is also called a CDCR Form 7362 “Health Services Request Form.” If you continue to have challenges obtaining a higher level of care after speaking with your treatment team, you may consider filing a health care grievance (602-HC).
8. What should I do if staff want to lower my level of care and I want to remain at the current level?
If mental health staff have determined that your level of care should be lowered and you are concerned about your ability to cope at a lower level of care, it is important that you speak with your primary clinician about your concerns. Your primary clinician may be willing to develop a discharge plan that will enable you to receive enhanced services at the lower level of care (such as CCCMS) during the transition period. You can also submit a health care grievance (602-HC) challenging the decision to lower your level of care.
9. What should I do if I am having problems with my mental health medications?
If you feel that you are not coping well on your current psychotropic medications, or are having side effects, you should submit a request slip to be seen by a psychiatrist for a medication review or talk to the psychiatric technician or nurse who distributes your medications. If you are unable to see a psychiatrist after submitting a request slip, you should speak with the LVN, MTA or psychiatric technician who provides you with your medications and report your side effects and problems with the medications. Ask that person to submit a request for a psychiatric evaluation of your medications. Describe the side effects or specific problems that you are experiencing with your medication when you talk with the psych tech or when you fill out your request slip. You should also talk to your primary clinician about any mental health symptoms (such as increased hallucinations, problems sleeping, etc.) that you are having on these medications. They may be able to help you schedule an appointment to be seen by a psychiatrist. Under the Coleman Program Guide, a psychiatrist is supposed to review your psychiatric medications with you at least once every 30 (for EOP) or 90 (for CCCMS) days, and more frequently when necessary. The psychiatrist should ask you about how well the medication is working and about any side effects.
CDCR has a specific Health Care Grievance Form (the blue CDCR 602 HC form) and process for grievances and appeals about health care (including mental health care). However, you should not file a health care grievance unless you have first tried to get attention through the regular mental health care processes outlined above. The deadline for submitting a 602 HC is within 30 calendar days after the event or decision that you are challenging or within 30 calendar days after you first learn about it.
10. Why were my medications changed recently? Can I do anything to get this reversed?
CDCR periodically reviews its drug formulary and it is possible that certain medications have been removed from the current formulary at your prison. You should have been asked to sign an “Informed Consent” before your medications were changed and your doctor should have discussed any medication changes with you. If this did not occur, or if you did not fully understand the communication, you should submit a slip requesting a medication review. Your psychiatrist will be able to discuss with you other medication options.
If you have a history of being treated successfully on a particular medication that was recently removed from your institution’s formulary, you can discuss with your psychiatrist whether it is possible to submit a “non-formulary request” for this medication. You can also file a Healthcare 602 (HC-602) appeal requesting this medication. On your HC-602, explain that you have been taking the medication successfully and state how long you have been taking it. It will be important to show why you are not able to take a substitute medication. Therefore, describe any bad reactions you have had to other medications, or say why they did not work for you, and include their names.
11. Can I get treatment for my Substance Use Disorder in CDCR?
Yes. CDCR launched the Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) program in January 2020 to provide Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment in its prisons. People who are part of the mental health caseload are eligible to participate in ISUDT while still remaining in the mental health program. As part of the ISUDT program, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) medications such as buprenorphine, naltrexone, methadone, and acamprosate are available for all patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Treatment also includes Cognitive Behavioral Interventions (CBI), formerly referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This kind of therapy focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, attitudes (cognitive distortions) and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing healthier coping skills. If you think you need substance abuse treatment, please speak with your primary clinician and/or file a sick call request.
12. What should I do if my mental health was a factor in my receiving a RVR?
If you have been issued a Rules Violation Report (RVR), your mental illness may have played a role in the behavior resulting in the RVR write-up.
If you are an EOP patient or housed in either a Mental Health Crisis Bed (MHCB) or inpatient facility, a mental health clinician must automatically complete a mental health assessment (“MHA”) within 15 (fifteen) calendar days of the RVR. The MHA is not confidential, and it is not done by your treating clinician. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether your mental illness influenced the behavior which resulted in the RVR, whether you need to have a staff assistant during your RVR hearing, and whether any punishment you receive should be reduced due to the influence of mental illness on your actions.
If you are at the CCCMS level of care, you should be referred for an MHA if the RVR may result in a SHU term, or if your behavior is considered to be “bizarre, unusual or uncharacteristic” for you (this language is from Title 15). You should know that a member of the custody staff (rather than a clinician) is authorized to make this “bizarre, unusual or uncharacteristic behavior” determination. An MHA must be performed within 5 (five) working days.
If you were not referred for an MHA but feel that you should have been, you can file a HC-602. In the text of your grievance, you should write that your behavior was influenced by your mental illness and met the criteria of being “bizarre, unusual or uncharacteristic.” For example, if you did not receive your medications and you experienced certain symptoms that affected your behavior, you should indicate that on your HC-602 appeal.
CDCR has a process that allows an assessing mental health clinician to recommend that an incarcerated person’s behavior be documented in an alternate manner (a counseling-only RVR, documented on CDCR Form 128-B), instead of through an RVR. This may be appropriate in cases where the behavior is determined to be strongly influenced by mental illness, developmental disability, or cognitive or adaptive functioning deficits. Certain categories of behaviors are excluded from the RVR process, meaning that no person should ever receive an RVR for any of the following:
- Behavior that occurred in connection with cell extractions for involuntary medication or involuntary medical treatment;
- Behavior that occurred in connection with a cell extraction for transfer of the incarcerated person to a mental health inpatient unit or between mental health inpatient units;
- Behavior that occurred in connection with being placed in mental health restraints and/or seclusion; and
- Behavior that is determined to be an act of attempted suicide or self-mutilation.
There is an exception in Title 15 for Division A-1 offenses, such as assault and battery. If you are written up for these things, you may still receive an RVR. We strongly disagree with this exception, and have been challenging it in our advocacy work.
13. What should I do if I have not received a reply to my HC-602 appeal?
If you do not receive a response within the time limits, you can trying filing a new 602-1 form, stating the date you submitted your original grievance, any log number you received, and that you have not received a timely response.
You can also try writing to the grievance coordinator at your institution and request a copy of your grievance form and its status. It is your right to request a copy of your grievance, and you should not be afraid or worried about writing to them. Just write them a short letter requesting a copy of your grievance, including the date you submitted your original grievance, any log number you received, and that you have not received a timely response. That is all you have to say; it can be a very short letter
You can also send appeals directly to the medical appeals coordinator via institutional mail if you want to avoid having the appeal seen by a member of your unit staff.
14. I am paroling soon. What services will be available to me once I parole?
Depending on your commitment offense, when you leave prison you may be supervised by a county probation department, or by state parole. County probation supervision is called “Post Release Community Supervision” or PRCS. Your correctional counselor can tell you which type of supervision you will get.
If you are on county PRCS, any mental health services you receive will be through your county mental health department. You will have to ask your counselor and probation officer for details, as this will be different for each county.
If you are on state parole, your primary clinician should help you to schedule an initial appointment at the Parole Outpatient Clinic (POC) in your region once you parole. The POC is where you can renew your medications and get other mental health services. If you have a POC appointment, make sure that you show up. Make sure before you leave the prison that you know exactly when and where your POC appointment is, and how to get there. Ask your counselor if you do not know or understand.
Before your release date, your correctional counselor should meet with you to tell you whether you will be on county (PRCS) supervision or state parole supervision. Your counselor will serve you with conditions of parole.
You should speak with your correctional counselor about applying for Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Veteran’s benefits before your release from prison. Your correctional counselor should provide you with the necessary forms, help you in filling out the forms, help you copy the necessary medical records, and provide you with the address of the local Social Security Administration office. You should apply for SSI approximately 90 days before your release. The CDCR has now negotiated a contract with the Social Security Administration to try to speed up the process for incarcerated people to complete and submit their applications before they are released on parole. We can also send you SSI forms if you need them, but you should try to get them through the prison first.
If you have a prescription for psychiatric medications, you should get a 60-day supply of medications when you are released. There may be a pre-release class offered at your prison. You should let your primary clinician know when your release date is and find out if such a class is available to you.
The Coleman Program Guide states that all people on the mental health caseload receive pre-release planning. One of the requirements is that your primary clinician must contact county mental health for transitional planning 30 days prior to release date. You should also ask your treatment team about the Transitional Case Management Program (TCMP) for public health benefits applications. You must receive a TCMP screening and if you are found eligible for public benefits, CDCR must assist you in submitting applications for Medical, Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Center for Independence (CID) 90 days before your release date. If you are interested in more information, please write to us and we can send you the Program Guide policy about this.
15. Why am I being kept indoors when it is hot outside?
After several incarcerated persons on psychotropic medications at CMF died of heat exhaustion in the early 1990s, the Coleman district court ordered every CDCR institution to have its own “heat plan” procedure that addresses how the institution will ensure that class members on heat-sensitive medications are protected against life threatening side-effects caused by intense heat. The court’s order requires that certain steps be taken when either the inside or the outside temperature reaches 90 degrees. Under the order, incarcerated persons on psychotropic medications that have adverse side effects in high temperatures are called “heat risk” persons. CDCR policy requires prisons to monitor the outdoor temperature hourly From May 1 through October 31, and when the outside temperature reaches 90 degrees, a Stage 1 Heat Alert occurs and all heat risk class members are supposed to be notified of the “heat alert” and returned to their housing units or any area of the prison that is cooler than 90 degrees. At this time, staff is also supposed to observe incarcerated persons for signs of heat-related illness. The Stage 1 Heat Alert ends once the outdoor temperature falls below 90° for one hour.
CDCR policy requires prisons to check the inside temperature every three hours, and once the inside temperature reaches 90 degrees, a Stage 2 Heat Alert occurs and staff are supposed to allow precautionary measures in the housing unit to facilitate cooling such as providing drinking water and ice, allowing class members to take frequent showers, and discouraging physical exertion. During a Stage 2 Heat Alert, staff is supposed to further observe class members for signs of heat-related illness and to report any symptoms to health care staff. The Stage 2 Heat Alert ends once the temperature falls below 90° for one hour.
A Stage 3 Heat Alert occurs when the temperature in an indoor space occupied by heat risk patients rises to 95° or higher. In a Stage 3 Heat Alert, nurses or other medically trained personnel must check on heat risk patients every two hours and document their condition. If any patients show signs of heat-related illness, they must be provided cooling measures or be sent to the triage and treatment area. The Stage 3 Heat Alert ends after the temperature has fallen below 95° for one hour. If your letter raised concerns about heat risk issues, we will include the most recent CDCR Heat Memo setting forth heat risk procedures.
16. What can I do about staff misconduct against me?
You should file a 602 staff complaint as soon as possible. Filing a 602 is important for a number of reasons.
First, the 602 will ensure that CDCR saves any videos of the incident. Unless a 602 is filed, most videos are destroyed in 90 days. In your 602, you should request that CDCR retain any video footage of the incident you are complaining about.
Second, the 602 will start an investigation by CDCR into the incident. We know that in the past, investigations by CDCR have been of very poor quality. As of January 1, 2022, CDCR began implementing changes to their investigation system. Starting mid-2022 serious allegations of misconduct at the six prisons covered by court order (RJD, LAC, CIW, COR, KVSP, and SATF) will be investigated by the Office of Internal Affairs. Starting mid-2023 the CDCR Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) should be investigating all allegations of serious misconduct statewide. OIA investigators will be required to review video and audio footage of the incident, if available.
Third, if you want to file your own lawsuit about what staff did to you, you need to file and exhaust a 602 about the incident. If you do not exhaust your 602, your lawsuit might be dismissed.
We recognize that you may be concerned about retaliation if you file a staff complaint. If you do file a staff complaint and then face retaliation, you should file a 602 regarding the additional allegation of retaliation for reporting staff misconduct. You are also welcome to write to us and let us know.
Additionally, because of the work we are doing to stop staff misconduct in CDCR, we appreciate any detailed information regarding staff misconduct that you have either experienced or witnessed, especially as it relates to class members in the Coleman or Armstrong (disability rights) class action lawsuits. Specifically, you can let us know what happened, when it happened, who was involved, and whether the incident was reported. Were there any witnesses? If so, what are their names and CDCR numbers? Did you receive an RVR in relation to this incident? If you or someone else reported the incident, did CDCR conduct an investigation? Who conducted it? When? Were you interviewed? What was the result? Was any action taken? If you know of other people with disabilities or mental illness having trouble with staff, you can let them know they can write to us to let us know. Please also send us any documents relevant to the incident, including incident reports, RVRs, or any medical records you may have. While we are unable to impact the outcome of any individual cases involving staff misconduct, we are monitoring statewide compliance with improvements to the staff complaint system and appreciate any information you have to share about the process.
17. Can you help me with my individual lawsuit?
Unfortunately, we are not able to handle individual appeals or lawsuits against the California prison and parole systems. That is because class actions like Coleman are very big cases that need a lot of work. If you asked us to bring a lawsuit for you, or represent you in a lawsuit, criminal case, or probation or parole violation, we must decline your request.
18. Can you help me to get a transfer or to stop a transfer?
We do not have the ability to affect individual transfer decisions. However, there are transfer timeframes that exist within the Coleman case that you should be aware of:
- Reception Center – Mainline CCCMS – Within 90 days of referral, or within 60 days of referral if the RC clinician indicates that an expedited referral is clinically indicated.
- Reception Center – Mainline EOP – Within 60 days of referral, or within 30 days of referral if the RC clinician indicates that an expedited referral is clinically indicated.
- Mainline GP or CCCMS – Mainline EOP – Within 60 days of referral, or within 30 days of referral if clinically indicated.
- ASU – EOP ASU Hub or PSU – Within 30 days of EOP placement or referral to EOP level of care.
- ASU – LTRH or STRH – Within 30 days of CCCMS placement
- Any Setting – MHCB – Within 24 hours of referral.
- Any Prison – Acute Care Inpatient Program – Within 10 days of referral.
- Any Prison – Intermediate Care Inpatient Program – Within 30 days of referral.
If you have not been transferred within these timeframes, you should speak with your counselor and/or file a grievance (602).
If you would like to request a transfer, including due to safety concerns, you should discuss this with your assigned correctional counselor and your Interdisciplinary Treatment Team (IDTT). You should not file an appeal to request a transfer. However, you do have the right to appeal classification actions, including a transfer recommendation or endorsement, after the fact.
19. What if I am an EOP class member being housed in a Reception Center?
When the CDCR mental health system operates properly, class members with serious mental illness who are at the EOP level of care should not stay in the Reception Center, but should be transferred to an EOP program within 60 days of referral. Because CDCR is too crowded, this does not always happen. CDCR has developed a partial EOP program at the Reception Centers: Central California Women’s Facility, California Institution for Men, San Quentin, North Kern State Prison, Wasco State Prison, California Correctional Center, California Men’s Colony, California Rehabilitation Center, and Sierra Conservation Center.
If you are in a Reception Center EOP program, you should see a primary clinician once a week, and receive at least five hours per week of treatment activities.
20. Can you assist me with my medical care concerns?
No. The Coleman case covers mental health care, but does not cover medical care issues. However, our co-counsel in the Coleman case, the Prison Law Office (PLO), has a case called Plata v. Newsom that is about medical care in CDCR. If you are having an urgent or emergency medical issue, tell any staff member at any time. For routine matters, you should submit a “sick call” slip. If this process does not resolve your concern, you should file a Healthcare 602 (HC-602).
The PLO is currently monitoring the administration of medical care and you may write to them about problems with medical care. Their mailing address:
Prison Law Office
San Quentin, CA 94964
If you write to us about medical concerns, we will forward a copy of your letter to the PLO.
21. What should I do if I need single cell status or have other problems concerning single cell status?
If you are currently experiencing difficulty being in a double celled situation, or if you are worried about your single cell status being taken away, you should try to discuss your concerns with your primary clinician and see if he or she would be willing to write you a chrono recommending single cell status. Mental health clinicians are permitted to have input into celling decisions by writing single cell chronos in appropriate cases. If a clinician writes a single cell chrono for you, this chrono will be taken into consideration by classification. Ultimately, however, this is an issue which is determined in classification. Our firm does not have the authority to inform or influence individual decisions about single cell status made by classification committees.
While you should speak frankly and openly with your primary clinician about your feelings, in the past some of our clients have been given RVRs for making statements to clinicians that were interpreted as direct threats of violence. In general, our experience has been that incarcerated persons who make a direct threat against a specific individual are much more likely to be charged with an RVR. By contrast, class members who indicate that they are having problems with aggressive feelings and are afraid they could lose control have not been referred to custody for an RVR. If you are afraid that you will actually harm another person, you can also request placement in a crisis bed.
If you do not feel safe speaking with your primary clinician about single celling issues, you can file a 602. Your 602 should discuss any factors that are relevant to your need for single cell status (such as past cell violence, history of being single celled, previous single celling chronos, history of assaulting cellies or being assaulted by cellies). Again, you should expect that any statement that could be interpreted as a direct threat against a specific individual could result in an RVR.
If you feel an adjustment to your psychotropic medication prescription may help you in coping, you should submit a sick call slip to be seen for a medication review. You can also request to be evaluated to receive a higher level of mental health care or to meet with your primary clinician on a more frequent basis.
22. What if I am a Coleman class member who will be transferred or has transferred to a county jail for a court proceeding?
If you are a patient housed in either a Mental Health Crisis Bed (MHCB) or inpatient facility, and you are scheduled to be transferred to a county jail for a court proceeding, your mental health treatment team is required to conduct a fitness for transport evaluation within 24 hours of the court date. Your mental health clinician may determine that you are not fit for transfer, depending on your medical and psychiatric condition, your medication needs and dosing schedule, whether there is an imminent danger to yourself or others, if transferred, etc. If you are not cleared for transfer, CDCR staff must communicate that to the superior court and request that the appearance be rescheduled or the removal order quashed.
Regardless of your level of mental health care, your mental health treatment team must create a transfer packet for you that includes, in part, the following:
- Release of Information, where available.
- Most recent Penal Code (PC) 2602 or PC 2604 Administrative Law Judge Order (if applicable).
- Current Interdisciplinary Plan of Care with diagnoses, medications, medication reconciliation, active physician orders, etc.
- Suicide Risk and Self Harm Evaluation (SRASHE).
Each institution is responsible for ensuring that the transfer packet is provided to the transportation team, who in turn must provide the transfer packet to the county jail health care staff.
In addition, if the county jail is unable to provide you with a currently prescribed specialty psychiatric medication, then Pharmacy, Nursing, and Custody staff must coordinate with the jail to provide an appropriately labeled, seven-day supply (or to the end of treatment if shorter than seven days remain).
If you have been transferred to a county jail for a court proceeding and are experiencing mental health decompensation, you should try to speak with medical or custody staff at the jail regarding your problems. If you are unable to see a doctor, ask custody staff whether there is a sick call procedure to request an appointment with a psychiatrist or mental health clinician. If you are unable to see a mental health clinician despite these efforts, you can contact our office for assistance. We can first try to contact the jail mental health services on your behalf. Please provide us with details regarding your current mental health problems.