On September 12, 1989, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the State of California, the California Department of Corrections (DOC), and the California Medical Facility at Vacaville (CMF), under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, in ...
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On September 12, 1989, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the State of California, the California Department of Corrections (DOC), and the California Medical Facility at Vacaville (CMF), under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division. The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to provide persons imprisoned at CMF with constitutionally required medical care, dental care, and psychiatric care. The complaint further alleged that the defendants' acts and omissions constituted a pattern and practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights, privileges and immunities secured or protected by the Constitution.
Contemporaneously with the filing of the complaint, the parties lodged a proposed Consent Decree which was eventually approved by the District Court.
Note that also on September 12, 1989, the DOJ filed a complaint in intervention in a related case, Gates v. Deukmejian, No. CIV S-89-1233 EJG-JFM (E.D. Ca.) [PC-CA-0004 of this collection].
This lawsuit followed a DOJ investigation of conditions at CMF pursuant to CRIPA which began in March 1985. During the investigation, DOJ attorneys conducted tours of CMF with outside expert consultants, examined documents and medical records and interviewed inmates. The investigation uncovered deficiencies at CMF with respect to staffing, psychiatric care, medical record-keeping, environment conditions, and overcrowding. On January 6, 1987, the DOJ sent a letter to the DOC in which it detailed its findings and outlined the minimum remedial measures necessary to correct the conditions at CMF, which included: an increase in medical staff, an expansion of the sick call clinic, specialized care services and general health surveillance, improved housekeeping and sanitation practices, and the end of the CMF practice to use untrained inmates as medical attendants.
Following the DOJ's recommendations, the defendants voluntarily took affirmative steps towards improvement of conditions at CMF, and implemented the following changes: increases in staffing, improvement of inmate access to sick call and specialized medical services, elimination of inmates from the provision of direct patient services, renovation of medical and psychiatric facilities, provision for staffing and operation of acute psychiatric services, improvements in staffing and operation of the medical record system and a decrease in the number of inmates housed at CMF. While changes at the CMF continued to be implemented, the parties negotiated a formal resolution of the issues as set forth in the Consent Decree.
The Consent Decree called for the defendants to implement changes to psychiatric care, medical services and treatment, and dental care. Further, the Decree specified procedures for compliance and implementation of its provisions. The District Court retained jurisdiction over the Decree for enforcement purposes.
Significant litigation followed respecting compliance with the Consent Decree until, on February 14, 1997, the District Court (Judge Lawrence K. Karlton) granted the parties' joint motion to dismiss.Josh Altman - 11/10/2006