On September 13, 1995, a federal court in Sacramento ruled that the CDCR is not providing adequate mental health care. The ruling was in a case called Coleman v. Wilson (now Coleman v. Newsom). The case covers all prisoners with serious mental disorders housed in California state prisons. The case continues today.

The Court’s ruling is 82 pages long. A copy is available for review in your prison law library.

The Court said that prison officials violated the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Constitution because they did not provide adequate mental health care. The Court identified six areas where the CDCR needs to make improvements: screening, treatment programs, staffing, accurate and complete records, medication distribution, and suicide prevention. Also, the Court found that prison officials violated the law by depriving prisoners of involuntary medication. Finally, the Court found that prison officials violated the Constitution by punishing prisoners for misconduct, placing them in Administrative Segregation, and using a taser or 37 mm gun without considering the mental health needs of the prisoners.

The Court approved CDCR’s plan for providing mental health care. That plan is now set forth in the “Mental Health Services Delivery System Program Guide.” The Court also appointed a Special Master who, among other things, monitors and reports on CDCR’s compliance with the mental health Program Guide.

The lawyers representing the prisoners are:

Donald Specter
Prison Law Office
General Delivery
San Quentin, CA 94964-0001

Michael W. Bien
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
P.O. Box 390
San Francisco, CA 94104-0390

Prison officials are represented by lawyers in the California Attorney General’s office:

Deputy Attorney General
1300 I Street
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244