In 2013, RBGG joined forces with the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office and the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the County of Monterey over unsafe conditions in the county jail as well as inadequate medical, dental, and mental health care for prisoners. The County and its for-profit health care provider ultimately agreed to settle the case, and in doing so promised in 2016 to undertake numerous reforms in five key areas: security, disability access, mental health care, medical health care, and dental care. The Court appointed independent monitor experts to evaluate Defendants’ compliance with the Court-ordered remedial plans.
RBGG’s Van Swearingen provided an update about the lawsuit to the Monterey County Weekly in a June 3, 2021 article titled “Attorneys for inmates who sued in a landmark case say Monterey County Jail has been slow to change.”
The article quotes Swearingen describing Defendants’ failures to come into compliance with the Court-ordered reform plans: “The defendant’s track record has been very poor. Some areas [Defendants] achieve compliance and then fall out of it, and in some areas they’ve never met compliance with the obligations.’”
The article also describes how the parties met in early 2020 with the neutral monitor experts for a two-day summit, which resulted in a May 29, 2020 stipulated order requiring Defendants to draft corrective action plans (or CAPs) to remedy all the areas in which they have not achieved substantial compliance with the remedial plans. The article further quotes Swearingen describing how Defendants “are slow to draft and slow to agree to CAPs that the neutral monitors have said are necessary to come into compliance. This is something the neutral monitors have told them they need to do.” RBGG continues to work on behalf of the incarcerated individuals at the Jail to ensure that Defendants finalize the CAPs and come into compliance with the Court-ordered remedial plans.