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Judge Orders A CA Pilot Program For Inmates With Personality Disorders

A federal judge ordered California to implement a pilot program for inmates suffering from personality disorders. It was the latest move by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller in a class action over the number of mental health professionals in California prisons. The order stems from a hearing last month in which the judge discussed a joint statement about implementing a pilot program at two facilities — San Quentin State Prison and Valley State Prison — by Aug. 31, Courthouse News reports. Mueller confirmed that deadline on Monday. She also asked the state to produce a status report detailing personality disorder treatment programs at 17 other prisons by June 16, 2025, about two months after the completion of the pilot program — the amount of time a doctor has said would be needed to evaluate it.

The pilot program has its beginnings in a September 2021 order. At that time, a judge ordered the state to determine if the class faced an unmet need for inpatient care. In November 2023, a judge ordered both sides to meet with a special master and create a pilot program in three months, then implement it within the following six months. While California agreed to implement the program, it wouldn't concede that the Eighth Amendment required it to do so, state attorney Paul Mello explained during last month's hearing. The amendment prohibits excessive bail and fines as well as cruel and unusual punishment. The state based that argument, Mueller wrote Monday, on her September 2021 order, which gave no finding on whether people with personality disorders faced a risk of harm or that treatment for those disorders was required. The plaintiffs in Coleman v. Newsom argue that treating personality disorders is a requirement and have expressed concern about the state’s reticence over meeting deadlines, Mueller wrote. Amar Mehta, deputy director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s statewide mental health program, has said it would take eight months to complete one cycle of the program.


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