State’s Disabled Inmate Care Is Poor, Judge Says

     (CN) – California’s prison system does a poor job of caring for developmentally disabled inmates, a federal judge ruled in rejecting the system’s attempts to wriggle out of court oversight.




     In his tentative ruling, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to submit a new plan to improve training and identify developmentally disabled prisoners. The system has 12 days to respond before the ruling is official.
“Developmentally disabled prisoners are punished for violating prison rules that they do not understand, and are punished at hearings which they cannot comprehend. These conditions violate those prisoners’ rights to due process and to be free of unlawful discrimination based on their disabilities,” wrote the judge, who is the brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
     “Illiterate prisoners are not given the help they need to understand or fill out important prison documents, leaving them with no way to use sick call slips or grievance forms, unless they can pay other prisoners or beg them for help,” Breyer wrote.
     A settlement was reached in 2001 following an action filed in 1996 that accused the prison system of discriminating against disabled inmates.
     The settlement required the nation’s largest prison system to take on various efforts to “ensure that California prisoners with developmental disabilities were protected from serious injury and discrimination on the basis of their disability.”

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