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A street view of a county jail in Redding, CA
Shasta County Jail in Redding, CA, has been at the center of other lawsuits alleging abuse; image courtesy of KRCRTV

After recommendations made by a U.S. Magistrate Judge, a federal judge in California gave the go-ahead for past and present inmates at a Shasta County jail to file a class action suit.

The case was registered last year in Sacramento’s District Court. The plaintiffs and their attorneys are arguing that the facility in question, located on West Street in Redding, discriminates against inmates with disabilities.

A local publication, the Record Searchlight, explains the claims in an article published Tuesday evening.

“The lawsuit says the jail does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not have the necessary accommodations for persons with disabilities, such as handle bars in showers,” writes Nathan Solis of the Searchlight. “Some doorways are too narrow for wheelchairs and there is a lack of seating in classrooms for people in wheelchairs, according to documents.”

However, the allegations pending against the jail go further than inadequate facilities.

Image of the steps leading up to the Shasta County Jail
Shasta County Jail; image courtesy of Record Searchlight.

Former inmates claim that the disabled among them were abused and “inappropriately segregated” from the general population. Detainees were placed on lockdown for 23 hours every day and forced across a multitude of challenging barriers with minimal assistance. Such was the surfeit of obstacles in the jail that one plaintiff wants damages for knee surgery he required after being mistreated.

Other individuals who have joined the class action say the situation at the Redding jail is such that disabled inmates couldn’t shower, sleep, or remain mobile.

The Shasta County Counsel, Jim Ross, didn’t oppose the inmates’ effort to have their suit designated as a class action. The recent granting of that move lets any past or present detainees with disabilities join as members of the class.

“No one should have to endure the pervasive and dehumanizing abuse that disabled prisoners in Shasta County are subjected to,” said Taylor Gooch of Keker, Van Nest & Peters, the co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “This order marks an important step in our fight to restore these individuals’ legally protected rights.”

KRCRTV reports that the Shasta County Jail said after the lawsuit was filed that it would work with disability groups to improve its facility and ensure it was able to treat disabled inmates and detainees with dignity.

The station also quotes the lawsuit as saying workers at the jail would put inmates into solitary confinement and deny others “cancer medication” if they dared to complain about their alleged mistreatment.

Shasta County responded by saying, “To the extent the new complaint alleges any retaliatory conduct toward an individual inmate such as the allegations of denial of medication, or the presentation of tainted or inedible food directed at a disabled inmate or at any inmate, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office completely denies those allegations.”

Sources say a court mediated settlement conference will be held on May 18,2017. This conference will determine whether additional hearings are needed.

Sources

Judge certifies Shasta County Jail lawsuit as ‘class action’

Lawsuit says disabled inmates treated poorly at jail

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