SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge's objections to what he called the horrific treatment of some mentally ill inmates in California prisons highlights a trend that has been building for decades.
As state mental hospitals closed or were scaled back, prisons and county jails have become the de facto housing for many of the state's mentally ill.
County and state corrections systems have provided inadequate treatment, leading to federal court oversight of mental health operations in California prisons. More recent lawsuits allege that some California counties have similar deficiencies.
In his ruling last week, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton said the state's prisons have been turned into mental health institutions.
California is struggling to deal with more than 33,000 mentally ill inmates, compared to fewer than 6,000 people in state mental hospitals.