An expert on conditions of confinement testified this week that mental illnesses of inmates in California’s prisons are allowed to worsen for months – and sometimes years – in segregated isolation, while their plight makes it easier to manage them.
* * *
The testimony came over three days at the outset of an evidentiary hearing in Sacramento federal court on claims by inmates’ attorneys that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a practice of isolating mentally sick inmates, even though it inevitably makes them sicker.
At one point, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton interrupted the direct examination of Dr. Craig Haney, and asked if he feels the judge should issue an order that would, for the most part, exclude mentally ill inmates from segregation units.
“That is my strongly held view,” Haney replied. “Before a mentally ill patient is placed in segregation, he should be carefully screened to make sure he absolutely has to be there. And, appropriate treatment should not, under any circumstances, be interrupted, as it is now.”