Judge: State Has Not Monitored Prison Inmates With Disabilities

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On Friday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that California has not adequately monitored or protected parolees with disabilities who are placed in county jails, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Background

The ruling is part of a 1994 lawsuit involving former state prisoners who were sent to county jails after being accused or convicted of violating the terms of their parole.

Wilken said that she pointed out the state's failure to meet disabled parolees' needs more than 10 years ago in a previous ruling but that the state has done little to comply since then.

Details of the Ruling

Wilken said that despite a computer system that tracks state prisoners with disabilities, officials do not know where such parolees are housed or what services they need.

She said the state's contracts with some counties have allowed parolees with disabilities and other inmates to be excluded from drug-treatment programs. Wilken also noted that:

  • Some jail officials have denied walking canes to inmates who have mobility conditions because of safety concerns;
  • Some inmates have been denied wheelchairs; and
  • The state failed to provide deaf parolees with sign-language interpretation and telephone assistance tools.

Wilken ordered California prison officials to give each county a daily list of parolees with disabilities in its jail and to contact all inmates to ensure they have the necessary accommodations.

Terry Thornton -- a spokesperson for the prisons -- said the state is reviewing the ruling (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/14).


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