Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

$24 million facility highlights state’s commitment to providing quality care and ending
federal oversight of prisons

VACAVILLE – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) opened a new mental health treatment building at California Medical Facility (CMF) in Solano County today that will provide space for intensive outpatient therapy for inmates, and offices for clinical staff.

“This facility reinforces CDCR’s ongoing commitment to provide a constitutional level of mental health treatment in California’s prisons,” CDCR Secretary Dr. Jeff Beard said. “It’s time for the federal courts to recognize the progress the state has made and end costly and unnecessary federal oversight.”

Since 2009, CDCR has spent more than $1.3 billion in construction dollars alone on improvements to inmate mental health care.

The new 44,000- square-foot building at CMF will provide mental health professionals with dedicated space to conduct individual, group, and recreational therapy for inmates assigned to Enhanced Outpatient (EOP) treatment. EOP provides the most intensive level of outpatient mental health care for patients who are not so impaired that they require 24-hour inpatient care.

The building cost $24 million dollars to construct and is one of 15 mental health treatment projects across the state that have been completed or are under construction. The state has spent more than $90 million in mental health treatment improvements at CMF alone.

Funding for these projects came from Assembly Bill 900, passed by the Legislature in May 2007.

AB 900 authorized $3.5 billion in lease revenue bonds to build additional treatment and programming space and inmate-patient housing at existing prisons. These facilities addressed severe shortages in medical beds and treatment space.

CDCR saved billions of dollars by renovating older housing and building on existing prison sites instead of building new prisons.

All of the projects are being designed for sustainability and energy efficiency and are anticipated to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Silver” certification.

In September 1995, a federal judge ruled in the class-action lawsuit Coleman v. Brown that the department was deliberately indifferent to the mental health needs of inmates in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In November 1995, the court appointed a Special Master to address the constitutional inadequacies.

Since the ruling, CDCR has made unprecedented reforms of its inmate mental health care. The department has successfully reduced waiting lists for inmates seeking treatment and implemented a standardized self-monitoring process to ensure that inmates are identified, referred, and transferred to the mental health treatment program that fits their needs in a timely manner.

Due to significant reductions in the state prison inmate population and vast improvements in mental health care, CDCR filed a motion in January 2013 to U.S. District Court to terminate the Coleman case.

“I urge the federal courts to give us credit for all of the capacity upgrades we have implemented,” said Secretary Beard. “Any further court-ordered reduction in our inmate population would pose a threat to public safety.”

For more information on the progress made in mental health care for inmates in California’s prisons, visit CDCR’s Mental Health Treatment website for a fact sheet, photos, legal filings, and the Mental Health Program Guide, which sets out policies and regulations for CDCR’s mental health treatment programs here:

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