Adult and Juvenile Detention Facilities
This page is about DRC’s work for people with disabilities locked in jails, juvenile facilities, and other institutions. We write reports about how people are treated and file lawsuits to improve how they are treated. This page, also, has press releases and articles about our work in this area. For more detail about our work keep reading.
"We will never achieve justice in this country until we have the courage to look unblinkingly into the hidden corners of our system of mass incarceration, where men and women are locked away and forgotten." Van Jones, author of Rebuild the Dream.
DRC has been a leading organization in efforts to improve the conditions and treatment of prisoners with disabilities in California detention facilities, such as jails and juvenile facilities. Using its monitoring authority, DRC has investigated conditions in detention facilities across the State, focusing on issues that significantly and disproportionally impact people with disabilities, including: (1) overuse and misuse of isolation and solitary confinement; (2) the provision of inadequate medical and mental health care; and (3) program inaccessibility, denial of reasonable accommodations, and other forms of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and related laws.
Fresno County should stop using pepper spray on children and teenagers serving time at the Juvenile Justice Campus and address other issues that affect their physical and mental health, a report from Disability Rights California recommends.
(Fresno, CA – July 2, 2018) Youth with disabilities released from the Juvenile Justice system face daunting obstacles when they return to their homes, schools and communities.
The Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board, charged with investigating complaints against the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, is moving for the first time in its history toward annual inspections of jail facilities.
The group earlier this month voted to form a committee to draw up a framework for jail inspections, in response to an advocacy group’s report about a rash of suicides and other deaths at the facilities...
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A report released Wednesday by an advocacy agency for the disabled calls on San Diego-area government officials to take urgent action to address a "shocking" suicide rate at local jails.
More than 30 inmates have taken their own lives at area detention centers since 2010, a frequency that "far outpaces other county jail systems in the state" and lays bare a failure of care and support services for the mentally ill, according to the study by Disability Rights California....
Inmates in San Diego County’s jail system commit suicide at much higher rates than inmates in other similarly sized California counties, according to an investigation by Disability Rights California...
San Diego County jails continue to face a suicide crisis and there is probable cause people jailed with disabilities are subject to abuse and neglect, according to a three-year investigation by Disability Rights California...
Michelle Moriarty called the Vista jail 31 times, begging the staff to make sure her husband couldn’t harm himself.
Heron Moriarty, a 43-year-old father of three, was booked into jail in late May 2016 after suffering a psychotic breakdown. He’d already been hospitalized twice and had stopped taking his medication...
(San Diego, CA – April 25, 2018) An investigation by Disability Rights California (DRC) finds that since 2010, more than 30 people have died by suicide while held in San Diego County jails. This number far outpaces other county jail systems in the state.
Today, Disability Rights California (“DRC”) and Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”) released a 50-page report on their 6-month investigation of the treatment of youth with disabilities at the County Juvenile Hall and other county correctional facilities. The investigation uncovered what the groups describe as “abuse and neglect” of youth with mental and behavioral disabilities in county facilities. According to the report, in 2017, youth with disabilities were disproportionately subjected to pepper spray, restraints and solitary confinement.
"As conversations about disparities in police killings and incarceration rates hit the news, one researcher wanted to answer a simple question: What’s the demographic profile of people being arrested? “I was looking for data and I was unable to find it, so I went out and I made it,” says Erin J. McCauley, the author of a new study on disability and arrest rates and a doctoral candidate in policy analysis and management at Cornell University."
"In a long-awaited action, a criminal justice advocacy group filed a class-action lawsuit against the Santa Barbara County Jail last week. Disability Rights California, a state-mandated organization, alleged jail staff provided “inhumane” and “unsanitary” living conditions for inmates. At least 10 people, many with serious health issues, have died in the jail in the last six years, the lawsuit states.
"A federal class-action lawsuit claims the Santa Barbara County Jail fails to provide basic mental-health and medical care, misuses solitary confinement, discriminates against people with disabilities, and provides “inhumane, unsanitary, and unsafe living conditions.”
The lawsuit, naming inmates Clay Martin Burt Murray, David Franco, Shareen Winkle, Maria Tracy and Eric Brown as plaintiffs, lists Santa Barbara County and the Sheriff’s Department as defendants."
"While acknowledging some of the shortcomings in the mental health unit of the Sonoma County Jail highlighted this week by a statewide disability rights agency’s report, county mental health and jail officials insisted the level of care exceeds that at other California jails or across the country.
The most serious allegations in the 25-page report released by Disability Rights California included illegally medicating some inmates and using excessive solitary confinement and isolation with others."
"A new report by the advocacy group Disability Rights California says that Sonoma County's main jail is not providing adequate care for inmates with mental health disabilities. The report, based on a 2015 inspection, found that many prisoners are isolated for more than 23 hours a day, and in some cases, are inappropriately medicated against their will. County officials say they are doing all they can to address the burgeoning population of mentally ill inmates and point to a dramatic increase in spending for mental health treatment. We discuss the report."
"Last August, Anne Hadreas toured Sonoma County's main jail in Santa Rosa to check on the treatment of inmates there.
Hadreas is an attorney for Disability Rights California, an agency that monitors conditions for mentally ill and disabled people in jails, state hospitals and other facilities. She's visited lots of those facilities, but what she saw in Sonoma County still came as a shock.
When Hadreas and several other attorneys got to what the jail calls its mental health module, they were confronted by highly delusional inmates screaming and crawling on the floor."
"Disability Rights California (DRC) found evidence that Santa Barbara County Jail practices violate the rights of prisoners with disabilities, according to the agency’s report on the April 2015 inspection of the jail.
The report listed the jail’s main violations as: undue and excessive isolation and solitary confinement, inadequate mental health care, and denial of rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). DRC identified these issues through a monitoring visit and interviews with prisoners and their families and attorneys.
"Last April marked the first time an outside group inspected the County Jail since 2007. The highly anticipated — and largely damning — findings made public this week criticize the amount of time inmates are placed in small, windowless “safety cells,” or “rubber rooms,” as they’re known.
"SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A report has been issued criticizing the Santa Barbara County Jail for its alleged treatment of prisoners with disabilities. The Disability Rights California (DRC) report says prisoners are denied basic mental health care, held in solitary confinement, and housed in conditions that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown responded to the report by issuing the following statement:"
"Sacramento County is isolating too many jail inmates in small cells for prolonged periods of time, sometimes for 24 hours a day, and may be headed for a class-action lawsuit.
That’s the substance and threat of a scathing review, first released in August, by two groups that examined the treatment of inmates at the main jail downtown and Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, both of which are operated by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
"The Sacramento County Jail is subjecting inmates with disabilities to prolonged isolation, preventing them from obtaining even the most minimum mental health care, according to a scathing new report released October 15 from Disability Rights California and the Prison Law Office.
For years, disability and civil rights advocates have railed against solitary confinement, particularly in regard to people with mental health needs, whose symptoms are exacerbated, often permanently, by the practice."
"AT JUST 5 FEET TALL, Christopher Carroll could barely see out of the two narrow window slats of his cell door in San Diego’s Central Jail, where he ended up on June 14, 2014, for disorderly conduct and being drunk in public.
"After a seven-year legal battle, a landmark settlement will make Los Angeles County jails more accessible for inmates with disabilities.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department settled a lawsuit Monday to make jails compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the settlement, the sheriff's department will buy and maintain hundreds of new wheelchairs and provide physical therapy on site for disabled inmates."
LOS ANGELES, CA- March 23, 2014 – Named plaintiff Peter Johnson, a Los Angeles resident, has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed below the chest at age 15. When he was arrested and sent to the Los Angeles County Jail eight years ago, there was no wheelchair-accessible toilet available for him. He had to sit in his own waste for more than eight hours while he was booked into the Jail’s Inmate Reception Center, which processed more than 100,000 detainees each year.
"A lawsuit was filed against Kern County on Wednesday by two disability rights groups claiming that youth in the county’s correctional facilities were discriminated against.
Disability Rights California and Disability Rights Advocates assert that youths with mental and behavioral disabilities in Juvenile Hall and other county facilities were subjected to restraints, solitary confinement of up to 23 hours a day and pepper spray for non-violent acts more than other youths in 2017.
Fresno, CA—Under a proposed settlement with Fresno County officials, prisoners in the Fresno County Jail will no longer be denied adequate health care. The agreement, filed today in federal court in Fresno, would settle a class action lawsuit on behalf of all present and future prisoners in the county jail.
Sacramento, October 29, 2015 – Disability Rights California (DRC) released a report criticizing the Sacramento County Jail for its treatment of prisoners with disabilities. According to the report ( Report on Inspection of the Sacramento County Jail ), prisoners with mental health needs are subjected to excessive isolation and solitary confinement, and are denied basic mental health care.
Sacramento, February 23, 2016 - Disability Rights California (DRC) today released a report criticizing the Santa Barbara County Jail for its treatment of prisoners with disabilities. According to the report ( Report on Inspection of the Santa Barbara County Jail ), prisoners are denied basic mental health care, held in solitary confinement and housed in conditions that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Sacramento, February 25, 2016 - Disability Rights California (DRC) today released two reports ( Report on San Francisco Youth Guidance Center and Report on Inspection of the San Diego Juvenile Detention Facilities ) on conditions in juvenile halls in San Diego and San Francisco.
(Sacramento, CA – May 16, 2016) Disability Rights California (DRC) today released a report (DRC Report and Sonoma County Response) accusing the Sonoma County Jail of neglecting prisoners with disabilities. According to the findings, there are two types of neglect; improper and inadequate mental health treatment for prisoners with mental health disabilities and excessive isolation.
(Santa Barbara, CA – December 6, 2017) Five prisoners in the Santa Barbara County Jail filed a federal class action lawsuit today, claiming conditions at the jail do not meet minimum standards under the U.S. Constitution and federal law. According to prisoners, the jail fails to provide basic mental health and medical care, overuses and misuses solitary confinement, discriminates against people with disabilities, and provides inhumane, unsanitary, and unsafe living conditions.