University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Sheriff [USDOJ CRIPA Investigation] JC-CA-0005
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-05903 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 6, 1996, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Los Angeles County that it intended to investigate conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail system pursuant to the Civil Rights of the Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. In August of 1996, the ... read more >
On June 6, 1996, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Los Angeles County that it intended to investigate conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail system pursuant to the Civil Rights of the Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. In August of 1996, the DOJ toured the Los Angeles County Jail (the Jail) with correctional mental health experts. The investigation found that the jail was failing to provide care meeting constitutional standards to mentally ill inmates. On September 5, 1997, the DOJ issued a letter reporting its findings based on the tour, the County's response to the tour, and additional information. The DOJ concluded that mental health care at the Jail violated the inmates' constitutional rights.

The DOJ's findings report detailed numerous alleged constitutional deficiencies with regard to mental health care, including inadequate: (1) intake screening and evaluation, (2) diagnosis, (3) referral to mental health professionals, (4) treatment plans, (5) administration of medications, (6) suicide prevention, (7) tracking and medical record keeping, (8) staffing, (9) communication, and (10) quality assurance. The report also noted that mentally ill inmates were abused through excessive force and improper restraint.

The report included a list of recommended remedial measures addressing the screening and treating of mentally ill inmates. The recommendations also included providing adequate and sanitary conditions for mentally ill inmates, providing access to recreation and other privileges, and promptly investigating reports of mistreatment or abuse of mentally ill prisoners. Other recommendations addressed record-keeping systems and suicide watch procedures.

On December 19, 2002, the parties reached a Memorandum of Agreement that required adequate mental health care and suicide and prevention at the Los Angeles County Jail System. The Agreement stated that: (1) all inmates are to be screened for mental illness upon intake to the Jail; (2) all inmates who may be mentally ill are to be referred to a mental health professional, and the County should provide adequate mental health treatment, including medication; (3) all inmates under suicide watch are to be evaluated by a mental health professional; and (4) detailed medical records with regard to mental health are to be kept. Also, the County is to provide sufficient mental health staffing to ensure timely access to adequate mental health treatment. Finally, the County must implement and document a continuous quality improvement program for mental health services, specifying the procedures to medical and administrative review for various events, such as suicides and attempted suicides.

On June 4, 2014, the DOJ issued a letter stating that, since the entry of the Memorandum of Agreement twelve years before, there had been significant improvement in the delivery of mental health services. However, serious systemic deficiencies remained with regard to some aspects of the Jails' mental health program.

In September 2013, the DOJ had opened a separate investigation of the Jails under CRIPA and 42 U.S.C. § 14141 to address allegations of use of excessive force against all prisoners at the Jails, not just prisoners with mental illness. During the course of the investigation, the County and the Sheriff entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement to resolve Rosas v. McDonnell, JC-CA-0073, in this Clearinghouse. Rosas was a class action lawsuit alleging abuse and excessive force by staff at certain Jails located in downtown Los Angeles. As part of the Rosas settlement agreement, the County and the Sheriff agreed to implement significant measures to protect prisoners from excessive force by staff, including improvements in policies, training, incident tracking and reporting, investigations, resolution of prisoner grievances, prisoner and staff supervision, and accountability.

The allegations concerning suicide prevention and mental health care at the Jails resulting from the partial implementation of the 2002 MOA and current conditions within the Jails remained after that settlement agreement. To address these issues the parties developed another settlement agreement. On August 5, 2015, the government filed this lawsuit against the County in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, under CRIPA and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. On the same day the Complaint was filed, the government and the County filed a stipulated settlement.

The now-court-enforceable settlement agreement provided for a series of new or enhanced policies and practices intended to ensure that the County would provide safe and secure conditions and ensure the inmates' reasonable safety from harm, including serious risk from self-harm and excessive force, and ensure adequate treatment for their serious mental health needs. The agreement also extended the remedial measures in the Implementation Plan of the Rosas settlement agreement to fully resolve the DOJ’s CRIPA findings regarding alleged mistreatment of prisoners with mental illness and claims under Section 14141 regarding alleged excessive force against prisoners at all of the Jails.

On September 3, 2015, Judge Dean D. Pregerson approved the settlement agreement.

On September 28, 2015, individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities whom Los Angeles County frequently cycles between its jails and streets sought to intervene in this matter arguing that paragraph 34 of the settlement agreement, covering discharge procedures, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. The individuals alleged that Paragraph 34 facially discriminated against disabled prisoners whose disability stemmed from personality disorders, substance abuse and dependence disorders, dementia, or developmental disabilities, as well as all disabled prisoners who spend seven days or fewer in jail. The individuals further alleged that Paragraph 34's discharge procedures were inadequate, as many disabled prisoners would be unable to obtain needed medication or services if provided with nothing more than a prescription or list of referrals upon discharge.

On December 15, 2015, Judge Pregerson granted the motion to intervene. 2015 WL 8783449. On January 14, 2016, the individuals filed their amended complaint. As of February 4, 2016, litigation continues and the parties are working to resolve the deficiencies in the settlement agreement.

David Terry - 03/08/2006
Jessica Kincaid - 02/04/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Counseling
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Los Angeles County Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice and individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities who cycle through the LA County Jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2002 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Written: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:15-cv-5903 (C.D. Cal.) 02/01/2016
JC-CA-0005-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Los Angeles County Jail 06/06/1996
JC-CA-0005-0004 PDF | Detail
USDOJ Agreement with LA County Jail 08/01/1996
JC-CA-0005-0001 PDF | External Link | Detail
Memorandum re: Findings Letter re: Los Angeles County Jail 08/14/1997
JC-CA-0005-0005 PDF | Detail
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Mental Helath Services in the Los Angeles County Jail 09/05/1997
JC-CA-0005-0006 PDF | Detail
Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States and Los Angeles County, California Regarding Mental Health Services at the Los Angeles County Jail 12/19/2002
JC-CA-0005-0007 PDF | Detail
RE: Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention Practices at Los Angeles County Jails 06/04/2012
JC-CA-0005-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Compliance Letter 06/04/2014
JC-CA-0005-0002 PDF | External Link | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Concludes That Los Angeles County Jails System Has Made Progress, but Serious Deficiencies Continue 06/04/2014
JC-CA-0005-0003 PDF | External Link | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint 08/05/2015
JC-CA-0005-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Proposed Order Approving and Entering Joint Settlement 08/05/2015
JC-CA-0005-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Order Approving and Entering Joint Settlement Agreement as an Order 09/03/2015 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Settlement Agreement Regarding the Los Angeles County Jails; and Stipulated Order of Resolution 09/03/2015
JC-CA-0005-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Intervene 12/15/2015 (2015 WL 8783449) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0012 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff-Intervenors' First Amended Complaint in Intervention 01/14/2016
JC-CA-0005-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Pregerson, Dean D. (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0012 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, L. Adelaide (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Birotte, Andre Jr. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0008
Blasi, Gary L. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Clancy, Thomas P. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Davis-Denny, Grant A. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Decker, Eileen (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Eichner, James (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Hartz, Alisa Louise (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Hull, Joanna (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Lynch, Loretta (New York)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Monteleone, Robyn-Marie L (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Murphy, Emily Rose DiMento (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0004
Phillips, Bradley S. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0006
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Richardson, Anne K. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0005 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Saucedo, Luis E. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0008
Trainor, Cathleen (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Weidman, Leon W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014
Wilson, Geoffrey Daniel (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Yang, Deborah W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Beach, Paul B (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Brazile, Kevin C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0001
Castro-Silva, Rodrigo A. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Chilleen, Michael J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Clark, Justin W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Hurley, Gregory F. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Joynt, Karen C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Leimkuhler, Bradley J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Murillo, Tiana J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Wickham, Mary C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011
Other Lawyers None on record

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