The chief psychiatrist of California’s prison system is accusing state officials of misleading both a federal court and lawyers for prison inmates fighting to improve mental health care inside state prisons, according to court documents.
Dr. Michael Golding sent the 160-page report to the court-appointed federal receiver overseeing reforms inside California prisons. Golding filed the report without his superior’s knowledge.
Dr. Golding’s “lengthy, detailed report” contains “serious allegations” that data reported to the federal court overseeing the medical and mental health care of California prisons “is inaccurate and has been presented in a materially misleading way,” reports The Sacramento Bee.
For example, the Golding report refutes the state’s claim that its psychiatrists have seen patients at an on-time-rate of 96 percent in some cases, where the actual frequency is allegedly only 20 to 30 percent, according to Michael Bien, the lead attorney for the inmates.
The Golding report prevented the signing of a stipulation in which inmates’ attorneys were to agree to reduce the state’s 405 psychiatrist positions by 79 to a total of 326.
“We almost signed it,” Bien told The Bee reporter. Now, that stipulation is “off the table and a hearing is expected in coming weeks on the allegations.”
Corrections officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) declined to address Golding’s accusations.
INMATE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS
California expects to spend around $690 million on various inmate mental health programs in 2018-19 as required under court-approved guidelines, according to the LAO Report. The care given to one-third of the CDCR inmates (more than 40,000) in prison mental health programs is subject to the oversight of a Special Master appointed as part of the Coleman v. Brown case (In 1995, a federal court ruled in the Coleman case that CDCR was not providing constitutionally adequate mental health care.) For example, Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) inmates are about 6 percent of the inmate population (approximately 7,500 inmates at current occupancy levels). EOP inmates are those diagnosed with serious mental disorders but do not require inpatient treatment.