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Six Years After Settlement, L.A. Jail Inmates Lack Mental Treatment

Inmates with serious mental illnesses in Los Angeles County jails continue to suffer in isolation and with little treatment, more than six years after the Sheriff’s Department reached a settlement with the federal government. The county remains out of compliance with the main requirements — ensuring that inmates with serious mental illnesses receive regular treatment, out-of-cell time and safe housing, says a court-appointed monitor, the Los Angeles Times reports. In the Men’s Central Jail, many cells were overflowing with garbage, and filth was spread on the walls, with a pile of razors abandoned in a hallway, monitor Nicholas Mitchell said in a report.

Last June, about 40 percent of inmates in the nation’s largest county jail system were diagnosed with mental illness, 5,620 in all. On Friday, a federal judge outlined benchmarks that the county must meet before May 15.

The county is required to achieve “substantial compliance” by 2024 — nine years after the settlement was reached in August 2015. U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson said he was concerned about the “revolving door” of inmates with mental illnesses who don’t receive discharge plans, including how they will receive medicine and therapy after release. Last year, the number of inmates who died by suicide in L.A. County jails was the highest since the settlement. A surge in suicides in county jails was part of what led federal officials to seek the agreement.


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