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Coleman v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 7, 2016

RALPH COLEMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
EDMUND G. BROWN, JR., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         On May 6, 2016, the Special Master filed his Twenty-Sixth Round Monitoring Report. ECF No. 5439. The report contains five recommendations for orders by this court. Neither party has filed objections to the report or its recommendations.

         In the twenty-sixth round of monitoring, the Special Master and his team conducted on-site visits at all thirty-four California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison institutions. ECF No. 5439 at 11.[1] The Twenty-Sixth Round Monitoring Report is a comprehensive report of his findings. As explained in this order, the court is surprised and disappointed by some of the findings and heartened by others. At this juncture, over twenty years after remedial efforts began in this action, the importance of bringing diligence, focus, and constructive action to the tasks that remain necessary to complete remediation and bring an end to federal court oversight cannot be overstated. The court acknowledges, with an appreciation of the immensity of the remediation project, the enormous efforts of everyone involved - the Special Master and his team, the plaintiffs, and the defendants and all of the state employees who are attending in good faith assiduously to their obligations under the orders of this court. The court also is acutely aware of the lengthy history of this case, the needs of the plaintiff class for, finally, a complete remedy, and defendants’ desire to be relieved of court supervision.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         As the court explained at a status conference approximately one year ago, this case should be on a path to concluding sooner rather than later, however sooner is defined. ECF No. 5342 at 3. It is this court’s expectation that, with clearly articulated goals and without unnecessary sidesteps, complete remediation can indeed be achieved in the foreseeable future. Planning must, however, be accompanied by prompt action. Repetition of efforts that clearly have failed in the past must be abandoned. And defendants must take a hard look at where they are housing mentally ill inmates if, as the evidence suggests, there are places and prisons where sufficient staff simply cannot be hired and adequate care cannot be provided.

         The road map to the end of federal court oversight is clear. In 2011, the Special Master identified “seven general goals” for defendants:

(1) Re-evaluation and updating of CDCR suicide prevention policies and practices;
(2) Ensuring that seriously mentally ill inmates are properly identified, referred, and transferred to receive the higher levels of mental health care that they need and that are only available from the Department of Mental Health (DMH)[2];
(3) Review of, and compliance with, all elements of their Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) Treatment Improvement Plan, including the conduct of a review every 30 days of all EOP inmates housed in ASU hubs for over 90 days;
(4) Completion of the construction of mental health treatment space and beds for inmates at varying levels of care;
(5) Full implementation of defendants’ new mental health staffing plan;
(6) Training of staff for greater collaboration between custody and mental health; and
(7) Refinement and implementation of the Mental Health Tracking System (MHTS.net)[3] to its fullest extent and benefit.

ECF No. 4124 at 85. The Special Master found in 2011 that there had “been progress toward some of these goals.” Id.

         Following extended detours into litigation in 2013, the court issued orders outlining additional remedial obligations regarding adequacy of DSH inpatient programs, ECF No. 4688, access to higher levels of care for California’s condemned inmates, ECF No. 4951, policies regarding use of force, disciplinary procedures, and strip searches involving mentally ill inmates, and placement of mentally ill inmates in administrative segregation and segregated housing units. ECF No. 5131. In addition, on March 2, 2015, this court approved a final settlement in Hecker v. CDCR, No. 2:05-cv-2441 KJM DAD, a class action brought under the Americans with ...


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