Class Calls California Jail Vile & Unsafe

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Monterey County jail is unconstitutionally unsafe, overcrowded and understaffed, threatening inmates and staff alike with injury and death, the public defender claims in a federal class action.
     Lead plaintiff Jesse Hernandez and four other named inmates sued Monterey County, its Sheriff’s Office, and the California Forensic Medical Group, which provides medical services at the jail.
     They are represented by the county’s Public Defender James Egar and his office, and by Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld with Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, of San Francisco.
     The class claims the Monterey County Jail is “broken in every way:” that violence is a regular occurrence and that the “causes of the violence – understaffing, overcrowded housing units, antiquated and poorly designed jail facilities, and an inadequate prisoner classification system – are well-known to and tolerate by defendants.”
     The jail houses 1,100 prisoners, which is 33 percent above its rated capacity, yet is rarely staffed with more than 24 officers, the complaint states.
     The violence is exacerbated by prisoners’ ability to “pop” open their cell doors and the availability of weapons: many prisoners use 13- to 19-inch-long copper pipes with razors at the end to assault other prisoners, the complaint states.
     It accuses the county and sheriff of “deliberate indifference to prisoners’ safety, medical and mental health, and disability needs.”
     The 74-page complaint lists a litany of incidents in which jail medical staff denied prisoners medical assistance or incorrectly treated prisoners.
     Plaintiff Hernandez claims he requested a colostomy reversal surgery for eight months before it was granted, and that the jail failed to provide him with proper post-operative follow-up care.
     He suffered intestinal swelling, bleeding, severe stomach pain, fevers, cold sweats, and obstructed bowels when the jail failed to provide him with antibiotics after his surgery, he says in the complaint.
     A female prisoner claims she suffered a miscarriage and suffered seven weeks of heavy vaginal bleeding before her request to see a women’s health specialist was granted.
     Prisoners are denied all medication during a 90-day detoxification process, the class claims. Prisoners with mental health issues often suffer relapses during this time, and if they act out, they are placed in “rubber rooms” without beds or toilets.
     The suicide rate significantly exceeds the national average for local jails: more than a dozen prisoners have killed themselves in three years, the complaint states.
     The class seeks declaratory relief and a corrective injunction.

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