Lawsuits Allege Subpar Conditions in California Jails Where State Inmates Are Being Sent


California has spent billions of dollars in years of federal lawsuits to improve conditions in state prisons, but the problems it has been trying to correct are now trickling down to local governments as county jails deal with thousands of additional inmates, reports the Associated Press. Law firms advocating for inmates’ rights have sued or threatened lawsuits against a handful of counties because of Gov. Jerry Brown’s sending lower-level offenders to local jails instead of state prisons as a way to comply with a federal court order. The lawsuits allege that subpar conditions that led to legal actions against the prison system – overcrowding, poor medical and dental care, inadequate mental health treatment – are repeating themselves at the county level. They say jails designed for short-term stays are being flooded with thousands of new inmates, many serving long-term sentences. Riverside County is the latest to be sued. Fresno County is trying to negotiate a settlement to a lawsuit filed after Brown’s “realignment” plan took effect in October 2011. Alameda County was sued in November, and Monterey County is expecting to be sued.

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