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In a blow to Brown, report says California not ready to take on prison mental health system

The "Secure Housing Unit" at Pelican Bay State Prison.
The "Secure Housing Unit" at Pelican Bay State Prison. Julie Small/KPCC

A federal overseer says it's too soon for California to retake control of its prison mental health system, dealing a blow to a proposal made by Gov. Jerry Brown last week.

Special master Matthew Lopes  says in a report filed Friday that too many California inmates are still committing suicide and going without treatment for their mental illness.

RELATEDGovernor Brown challenges federal caps on California prison population

Brown filed a court motion last week to end a long-running class action lawsuit over substandard treatment in prisons. Lopes advises the federal judges who will rule on it.

The Democratic governor is also seeking to lift a cap on the number of inmates, saying it would be too dangerous to release more prisoners.

Lopes says ending mental health oversight is "not only premature but a needless distraction" from ongoing improvements.

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