Feds retain control of Calif. prison mental health

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California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (AP Photo)

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (AP Photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A judge has rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s bid to regain state control of inmates’ mental health care after 18 years of federal oversight and billions of dollars spent to improve treatment.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento ruled Friday that the state failed to prove that it is providing the level of care required by the U.S. Constitution for the state’s more than 32,000 mentally ill inmates.

The decision is a blow to the Democratic governor’s attempts to end nearly two decades of expensive federal lawsuits that influence nearly every aspect of California’s prison system.

It also undermines Brown’s efforts to lift a separate court order that otherwise will force the state to reduce its prison population by nearly 10,000 by year’s end.

Brown has promised to appeal.

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