The Department of Justice [official website] announced [press release] Wednesday settlement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on reforms to LA prisons in an attempt to improve care for mentally ill inmates.
The agreement comes after a series of incidents where deputies were found to abuse mentally ill inmates by breaking their bones and sexually humiliating them. The settlement will allow the United States District Court to require the county jail to submit specific reforms and oversee the jail system for at least a year. The Court hopes that after the new reforms are put in place jail suicides will be reduced and more treatment will be provided for mentally ill prisoners.
The treatment of prisoners and prison reform [JURIST podcast] has been a growing concern in the US for years. In May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], released [JURIST report] a report stating that mentally disabled prisoners experience “unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force” at the hands of prison staff across the US. In April, the US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in Kingsley v. Hendrickson over the standard that should be applied to excessive-force claims brought by pre-trial detainees. A federal court in February approved [JURIST report] a settlement agreement between the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) [official website] and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] in a class action lawsuit over the health care system within Arizona prisons. Also in February rights group Equal Justice Under Law [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Missouri, for their practice of jailing citizens who fail to pay debts owed to the city for minor offenses and traffic tickets. The ACLU and the ACLU of Texas [advocacy website] released a report last June exposing [JURIST report] the results of a multi-year investigation into conditions at five Criminal Alien Requirement prisons in Texas.