Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Attorneys seek limited isolation for mentally ill inmates

The California Health Care Facility in Stockton (seen here under construction) will soon be open and is expected to house some mentally ill inmates currently kept in prison isolation units.
Julie Small/KPCC

This year Gov. Jerry Brown asked a judge to dismiss a decades-old lawsuit that established federal oversight of mental health care in California prisons. But U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton rejected the motion, and the governor’s move blew the case wide open.

In one of the related issues, attorneys for inmates are now seeking to limit the amount of time prison officials can keep mentally ill inmates in isolation units.

California prison officials use Security Housing Units and what's called "administrative segregation" to keep tight control of hard-core inmates, including those whom they identify as prison gang leaders or accomplices.

But more than 3,000 of the men and women who are isolated also suffer from mental disorders.

An attorney for some of those inmates, Michael Bien, said at a Wednesday court hearing in Sacramento that the isolation exacerbates their conditions and may contribute to the high suicide rate in California’s prisons.


Add your comments

LADWP changes sick day policy, requires doctor’s note

DWP workers have recently been criticized for overuse of sick days.
Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Under fire over employees’ seeming abuse of sick days, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Wednesday issued a new policy requiring a doctor’s note for workers who are off the job for more than two days.

Employees must “present a written medical certification from a health care provider…verifying the necessity of the use of sick time,” DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said in a department-wide bulletin.

Nichols acted less than a week after the Los Angeles Times reported the DWP has paid employees more than $35.5 million for 103,802 extra sick days. The paper reported the paid days off were beyond the agency's nominal 10-day-a-year cap on sick days.

“This move will help eliminate abuse of the current policy that we found by a very small fraction of employees – estimated at about 1-to-2 percent,” DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said in a statement. He added the department has a relatively good track record on sick days.


Add your comments

Maven's Morning Coffee: LA County fires social workers, Police Commission sends racial profiling to mediation, Q&A with Mike Bonin

The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services fired four social workers for serious lapses that led to the torture and death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy.
jann_on/Flickr Creative Commons

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Wednesday, July 31, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Los Angeles County fired four child welfare workers who officials say were responsible for serious lapses that led to the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy, reports the Los Angeles Times. "There were so many red flags in this case that just didn't go heeded," said Philip Browning, head of the Department of Children and Family Services.

The Police Commission approved a three-year pilot program that would allow police officers and individuals who accuse them of racial profiling to enter into mediation, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The initiative is the latest effort by LAPD officials to rethink the way the department addresses an accusation made hundreds of times each year — that an officer targeted someone for a traffic stop or some other type of detention because of that person's race," per The Times.


Add your comments

Valley councilman wants to install free Wi-Fi citywide

L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield wants to install free wireless Internet throughout the city of Los Angeles. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed a similar plan in 2007.
Grant Slater/KPCC

How might a newly installed L.A. City Councilman from the outer reaches of the San Fernando Valley quickly make his mark?

How about by proposing to equip the entire city of Los Angeles with free wireless Internet.  

Councilman Bob Blumenfield chairs the Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee. His proposal would make Los Angeles the largest city in America to implement a Wi-Fi program.

"We live in a world where success is increasingly tied to ability access to information," Blumenfield said. "Los Angles has already made great strides towards enhancing government openness through technology, from live simulcasting of council meetings to the MyLA311 mobile application. Providing universal access to the Internet is a natural and necessary extension of these efforts.”


Add your comments

Former mayoral candidate confirmed to Public Works in contentious hearing

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously confirmed Mayor Eric Garcetti's nominees to the Board of Public Works Tuesday. From left to right, Matt Szabo, Mike Davis, Kevin James, Barbara Romero and Monica Rodriguez. The mayor's wife, Amy Wakeland (far right), joined the commissioners in the front row.
Alice Walton/KPCC

A former mayoral candidate was questioned about his comments on climate change and immigration Tuesday during a confirmation hearing to the Board of Public Works. 

Despite the grilling, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Kevin James to the only paid commission in the city. As a Public Works commissioner, James will receive an annual salary of $136,000. Public Works is a policy-making board responsible for approving construction of public projects and overseeing the departments responsible for sanitation, street maintenance and graffiti removal. 

The vote came after four other nominees — Matt Szabo, Mike Davis, Monica Rodriguez and Barbara Romero — sailed through the confirmation process. Mayor Eric Garcetti's wife, Amy Wakeland, joined the nominees in the front row of the council chamber for the hearing. A mayoral spokesman said Wakeland was hanging out at City Hall and decided to stay for the council meeting. 


Add your comments