Judge considers Calif. inmate isolation practices

By By DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge is wrapping up hearings on the last of four challenges to the way California treats mentally ill inmates, months after he rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to end court oversight of prison mental health programs.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento planned to hear closing arguments Thursday over whether prolonged solitary confinement violates the rights of the mentally ill.

He already has ruled against the Brown administration on two other fronts: He decided that mentally ill inmates on death row lack proper care and that the Department of State Hospitals provides substandard treatment to mentally ill prisoners.

Inmates' attorneys say keeping mentally ill inmates in isolation does more harm than good. Lawyers for the state said corrections officials provide proper treatment within the isolation units.

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