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California DOC Ordered to Comply with Overdue Suicide Prevention Measures

On February 13, 2006, The U.S. District Court (E.D. Cal.) entered a remedial Stipulation and Order to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to force CDCR to implement the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) policy that the court had previously ordered on June 9, 2005. CDCR?s failure to comply with the earlier order of the court only frustrated the 16-year-old civil rights case (Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.) No. CIV S-90-0520 LKK JFM P) that had directed improvements in CDCR?s mental health care program to quell the unacceptably high prisoner suicide rate.

The June 9, 2005 order had commanded CDCR to (1) within 30 days, submit a plan for dealing with the hazard of large-mesh ventilation screens in segregation cells were mental health prisoners were housed; (2) within 60 days, develop and implement a policy that ?establishes clearly and unequivocally a requirement for custody staff to provide immediate life support ... until medical staff arrives;? (3) provide the court?s Special Master with all Suicide Reports and staff performance reviews in such incidents; (4) Within 90 days, involve the Health Care Services division of CDCR in promulgating suicide prevention, and (5) within 60 days, implement a tracking system of the suicidal history of all CDCR prisoners.

On August 25, 2005, the prisoners? class attorneys filed a Notice of Defendants? Failure To Comply. 130 days later, the court scheduled the matter for briefing on February 15, 2006. Included in the requested reporting was the status of ?cut-down kits? in all 34 CDCR prisons, the status of CDCR staff returning from leave being re-trained on CPR procedures, and a survey of all suicide incident reports to review the use of CPR. In addition, by March 1, 2006, defendants must give the Special Master a list identifying all ?heretofore unidentified responsible persons? who prepared these reports at each facility. The ?ghost writers? were singled out at Avenal, Tehachapi, Soledad, Calipatria, California Mens Colony, Corcoran, San Quentin, North Kern and Kern Valley state prisons.

On February 13, the court accepted a joint stipulation, including a dismissal of the notice of noncompliance, and ordered the 17th round of monitoring to report on items (1) through (5) above. The expected outcome of the current monitoring will be affidavits from each warden certifying full compliance with the June 9, 2005 order. Meanwhile, CDCR?s suicide rate continues to soar.

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Related legal case

Coleman v. Schwarzenegger