A court-appointed monitor says California Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to end judicial oversight in state prisons is “not only premature, but a needless distraction” from improving care for mentally ill inmates, reports the Los Angeles Times. Special Master Matthew Lopes cited dozens of suicides last year, long isolation instead of treatment, and lapses in care as reasons federal oversight should continue.
Lopes’ assessment, filed in U.S. District Court, came after he visited two-thirds of California’s prisons. He had intended to see all 33 lockups, he said, but soon determined that only Sacramento — not individual wardens — could fix the underlying problems with mental health treatment in the corrections system. Brown wants courts to halt oversight of the mental health services and withdraw orders to reduce overcrowding. He says California has “one of the finest prison systems in the United States” and that inmates get “far better” medical care, including mental health care, in prison than those outside. Lopes disagreed.