San Bernardino County struggles with increased service demand in wake of prison realignment

Joe Nelson
July 9, 2015

Prison Law Office director Donald Specter wrote that their investigation found “serious inadequacies with mental, medical and dental care” in San Bernardino County jails, and an “apparent culture of violence where deputies use excessive force to beat, tase, and restrain prisoners.”

Sheriff John McMahon said that the issues were resolved from an internal investigation into reports of torture using Taser guns at the West Valley Detention Center, which led to an FBI investigation and examination from a federal grand jury. McMahon said that seven deputies were fired or resigned and about 10 other employees received discipline.

McMahon said $3 million has been allocated in the county’s 2015-2016 budget for mental health care along with increased recruitment by the county Department of Behavioral Health. McMahon said that realignment, which shifted responsibility for non-serious offenders from state prisons to county jails, has increased the need for mental health services at these facilities.

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Organizations mentioned/involved: Prison Law Office