Care on death row

State ordered to improve mental-health care for death-row inmates

The level of psychiatric care death-row inmates receive in California was recently deemed inadequate by a federal judge.

In light of an investigation of prison-based mental-health-care facilities managed by the California Department of State Hospitals, a Dec. 10 ruling from U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton requires state officials to provide more intensive care to death-row inmates, according to California Healthline. In June, attorneys representing state inmates requested Karlton order the opening of a new psychiatric-treatment facility in Vacaville, a review of death-row inmates’ mental-health needs, and changes to current state policies on the use of batons, pepper spray and other weapons on mentally ill prisoners.

State officials, now under federal oversight, will begin psychiatric evaluations of prisoners to determine how many death-row inmates will require mental-health services.