Coleman discussed on KCBS Radio Weekend News


And an expert involved in the Coleman case could you speak to us Sir about the Coleman case first what is that what's the case that began over twenty five years ago a group of attorneys and experts filed a case here in federal court brazing questions about the quality of the mental health care that was being delivered to California prisoners throughout the state in nineteen ninety five a court ordered the department of corrections to drastically change and improve the kind of health care that was being delivered in there then and soon the several decades worth of continuing litigation over how much and how effectively the court's order was being implemented resulting as many listeners may recall several years ago in the United States Supreme Court case that we ordered the California department corrections to drastically reduce the number of people in prison in order among other things to better provide medical and mental health care to the prisoners who work to find in the system there have been improvements over the last twenty five or so years I wouldn't deny that but as you can see from today's chronicle report we've done no where near enough and there is still a mental health care crisis in the department of corrections is just curious if we have made certain strides how it how it is that the numbers are going up to the extent that they are as kind of a kin to the military where there's been an increase in suicides but they're not all in the field of battle and many of them are in the military installations what it what it's going on in a broader sense when it comes to mental health issues well if you the mental health system in the United States is itself in crisis good default mental health system in the United States is really the prison system we don't have a functioning public mental health system outside of our department of corrections in prisons are in many ways uniquely ill suited to address the mental health needs of of prisoners and or citizens and so one of that one of the problems is that we've called upon prisons to do things that they weren't set up to do and that's the battle that we've been fighting for twenty five plus years in California there is really little in the way of of fact give alternatives to mental health care outside of prison and so these problems worse and people suffer on the streets there's nowhere for them to go they get in trouble they get put in jail or or in prison and then we ask the prisons to deliver mental health care that they were never really intended or structured to do that's the historical problem it's a broader societal problem but the fact that we have in California for example thirty plus percent of the prisoners with serious mental health problems is not leave the prison system off the hook for providing that care if they're there then their mental health needs have to be addressed and what the chronicle report this morning in a lot of the other statistics that we've collected about mental health care in California prison suggested that those means those needs aren't being met and and and that crisis continues unfortunately and and people are suffering in the prisons on a widespread basis substance sometimes suffering so desperately that they decided to take her own life well let's hope that certainly things do begin to improve Craig Haney is a UC Santa Cruz psychology professor and an expert in the use of suicides that are happening in the California prisons.

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