By Bay City News
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation opened a new mental health care facility today for inmates at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
The state CDCR's Secretary Dr. Jeff Beard said the $24 million, 44,000-square-foot outpatient treatment building reinforces the department's commitment "to provide a constitutional level of mental health treatment in California's prisons.
"It's time for the federal courts to recognize the progress the state has made and end costly and unnecessary federal oversight," Beard said.
A federal judge ruled in September 1995 that the CDCR was deliberately indifferent to the mental health needs of inmates in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, CDCR spokeswoman Dana Simas said.
In November 1995, the federal court appointed a special master to address the constitutional inadequacies, Simas said.
Since then, the CDCR has made "unprecedented reforms of its inmate health care" Simas said.
There have been significant reductions in the state prison inmate population and improvements in mental health care, Simas said.
The CDCR has reduced the waiting list for inmates seeking treatment and implemented and self-monitoring process to identify, refer and transfer inmates to the mental health program that meets their needs, Simas said.
CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton this morning said the CDCR filed a motion in January asking the U.S. District Court to terminate the class action lawsuit, Coleman v. Brown, that was filed against it, the state and the Department of Mental Health Services on behalf of the inmates in 1995.
Thornton also said the new mental health treatment building at the Vacaville facility shows the CDCR is "providing a high level of mental and physical health care to inmates."
The new treatment center at the California Medical Facility will have space to conduct individual, group and recreational therapy for inmates assigned to Enhanced Patient Treatment.
The EPO provides the most intense level of outpatient mental health care for patients who are no so impaired that they require 24-hour inpatient care, Simas said.
The new treatment building is one of 15 mental health treatment projects across the state that have been completed or are under construction, and the state has spent more than $90 million in mental health treatment programs at the Vacaville facility, Simas said.
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