A federal judge has ordered California to stop the “regular” practice of putting disabled inmates into segregation units because it lacks room elsewhere in its prisons, reports the Los Angeles Times. The order came from Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, who also is hearing a class-action lawsuit over the state’s use of solitary confinement. Wilken ruled yesterday that California was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as repeated court injunctions by confining disabled prisoners in cellblocks used to isolate those who violate rules.
Lawyers for prisoners and the state in 2012 had agreed on a plan to find more suitable housing in the state’s crowded prison system. Even so, Wilken found, prison logs showed 211 disabled inmates had been put in the isolation cells in the past year, spending from one day to one month in the units. Most of those cases were at one prison, the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. Prisoners’ lawyers cited cases where disabled inmates had been shunted to segregation cells at 10 other prisons.