JUDGE APPROVES SETTLEMENT IN MAJOR CASE FOR INMATES WITH DISABILITIES
A Trend for City and County Jails?
A federal judge approved a sweeping settlement on 3/23/2015 mandating improvements for inmates using wheelchairs and others with impaired mobility at Los Angeles County jails. (Peter Johnson et al v. Los Angeles CountySheriff’s Department et al; California Central District Court, Case No. 2:08-cv-03515; District Judge Dean D.Pregerson, presiding; docket://gov.uscourts.cacd.2-08-cv-03515)
Under the agreement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be required to construct wheelchair accessible toilets and build new housing for inmates with disabilities, among other improvements.
The agreement came six years after attorneys filed the class-action suit alleging discrimination and violations of theAmericans with Disabilities Act and the Eighth and 14th amendments.
In addition to making housing and toilets more accessible to the disabled, the agreement requires the sheriff’s department to develop a new system to deliver working wheelchairs to inmates; provide equal access to employment, educational and vocation programs; and appoint a coordinator to address complaints from inmates ortheir relatives.
The department will be required to create a document outlining inmate rights within the next months and begin taking steps toward implementing training for staff and tracking inmates with mobility impairments.
(Important decision to be considered at the Association’s Spring 2015 ADA Conference)