Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Settlement of San Bernardino Juvenile Mental Health Case

See this article, which begins:

San Bernardino County juvenile offenders with learning, behavioral and emotional disabilities will now receive treatment in custody and after their release, according to a settlement approved Monday in federal court.

The class-action lawsuit, brought on behalf of six juveniles in county custody with mental health difficulties, alleged violations of state and federal disability rights laws.

The unique agreement will provide mental health screening for juveniles taken into custody and require officials to arrange for counseling, educational support, medication and other services from a team of doctors, nurses and county mental health specialists.

The settlement also requires monitoring and tracking of officers' use of force against juveniles with special needs.

The arrangement "really transforms the probation-detention system from punitive to therapeutic," said Paula Pearlman, deputy director of advocacy projects for the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, which represented the juveniles. Although the county denied wrongdoing, the plaintiffs — six minors with disabilities left mostly untreated by the county — will also receive a combined $50,000 as part of the settlement, Pearlman said.

There are roughly 600 juveniles in San Bernardino County's three detention facilities, in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino and Apple Valley.


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