A settlement of $822,000 for the plaintiff, Dr. Christopher Wadsworth
A lawsuit alleging retaliation against a San Quentin psychiatrist who warned of inadequate mental health care in the prison has led to a settlement of $822,000 for the plaintiff, Dr. Christopher Wadsworth, reports the Sacramento Bee.
The fast-track career of Dr. Wadsworth, the former Chief Psychiatrist at SQ, was damaged after he informed state officials that reducing beds for the acutely mentally ill would consist of actions that, according to an email Wadsworth sent to a corrections leader, “…will have knowingly put ourselves into a critically irresponsible position that will invite even more firestorm…” In that same email, Wadsworth added that “…it would set the stage for unacceptable patient care of the acutely mentally ill…”
Dr. Wadsworth’s lawsuit, filed in 2015, also stated that he was attempting to comply with the Court’s mandate from Coleman v. Brown. This decision demanded CDCR and the State provide a basic level of mental health care to inmates. Budget strategies revealed CDCR’s intention to use some of its existing mental health crisis beds for lower level needs. Dr. Wadsworth objected.
His lawsuit alleges his objections led to immediate retaliation by his supervisors and CDCR. The retaliation led up to, and included, a demotion and a threat that would have him, “…re-assigned to a prison in the middle of the (expletive) desert…”, the Bee reported.
According to the plaintiff, the decision by San Quentin to implement the reduction of crisis beds in May of 2014 led to a suicide by a mentally ill inmate and another failed suicide attempt two months later.
Wadsworth’s lawsuit settled in July of 2017. The settlement of this suit strengthened the legal basis of an ongoing federal dispute between CDCR and Chief Psychiatrist Michael Golding. Dr. Golding asserts officials have provided misleading and inaccurate information to a federal overseer regarding the state’s mental health services.
Upon the settlement agreement between CDCR and Dr. Wadsworth, he was transferred to Folsom State Prison. Dr. Wadsworth has since refrained from public discussion of his case due to his worries about further career repercussions.