Take Two for March 26, 2013

California to seek return of sole control over mental health care at prisons (Photos)

Prison Suicide - 1

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Inmates await treatment at the new mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 2

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Psychologist, Dr. Naiwon Chung, performs an evaluation of an inmate at the new mental health treatment unit the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 3

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

An inmate is escorted from the new mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 4

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A low-risk inmate waits for treatment new mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 5

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A sign warns care givers and correctional officers that protective vests are required in one of the treatment areas at the newly opened mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 6

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Brian Duffy, acting warden of the California Medical Facility, looks in one of the prison's inmate holding rooms at the newly opened new mental health treatment unit in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 7

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

At inmates waits for his appointment in a holding room at new mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide -  8

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation discusses the new mental health treatment unit during a dedication ceremony at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Prison Suicide - 10

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A group therapy room featuring armless, non-throwable chairs is seen at the newly opened mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.


Tomorrow California will ask a federal judge to end his oversight of the mental health care system in state prisons.

The judge appointed a special master more than a decade ago. Since then, California has spent billions of dollars to improve psychiatric care for inmates.

But as KPCC's Julie Small reports, the state will have to explain to the judge why the suicide rate has risen in recent years.


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