A proposed class action out of California claims two Alameda County jail facilities subject prisoners with mental health disabilities to extended periods of isolation that exacerbate their illnesses instead of relieving symptoms.
A proposed class action out of California claims two Alameda County jail facilities – Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland and the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin – subject prisoners with mental health disabilities to extended periods of isolation that exacerbate their illnesses instead of relieving symptoms.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants, which include the County of Alameda, the county’s sheriff, and the interim director of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency, are “deliberately indifferent” to the “substantial and obvious risk of harm” the jails’ policies present to prisoners with psychiatric disabilities.
“Instead of working to ensure prisoners with psychiatric disabilities are cared for adequately, per Alameda County policy, these prisoners are classified as ‘mentally disordered’ and held in either the Behavioral Health Units or in Administrative Segregation because of their disabilities and with little to no access to programming, minimal out of cell time, practically no access to the outside, and no meaningful mental health treatment,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit argues that prisoners are punished for behaviors linked to their mental disabilities and are subjected to “dungeon-like conditions” for weeks or months at a time with no due process that may allow them to challenge their placement.
According to the case, at least 33 prisoners have died in the two jails between 2014 and 2017, with 12 of those deaths classified as suicides. The plaintiffs link the deaths to the facilities’ “harsh and unconstitutional conditions” and seek to alter the defendants’ policies and practices to ensure better treatment of inmates with mental disabilities.