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Shasta County Prisoners Abuse Suit Reaches Settlement

Press Release

Shasta County Jail inmates with mobility disabilities have settled a class action lawsuit filed against Shasta County and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department that alleges systemic ADA discrimination. A hearing on the final settlement agreement is slated for February 2018.

The Shasta County Jail houses as many as 38 prisoners with mobility disabilities on a given day and processes between 516 to 1,200 mobility disabled detainees in a given year. Through the settlement agreement, filed Nov. 28, 2017, the County will contract with an expert to conduct a full inspection and assessment of the jail’s policies and facilities, and complete barrier removal or remediation. The settlement also calls for the hiring of an ADA coordinator who will oversee the jail’s compliance with accessibility laws regarding mobility disabled inmates, and requires the County to improve its grievance procedures.

The class lawsuit, filed on May 25, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleged that the Shasta County Jail routinely ignored and failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act and other federal and state laws. In the complaint, plaintiffs detailed the jail’s systemic issues and violations:

“People with mobility disabilities are denied accommodations, provided inadequate accommodations, inappropriately segregated from the general population, placed in 23 hour lock down, excluded from jail programs and services, and subjected to multiple and pervasive physical access barriers throughout the facilities. The result is a system that imposes some of the worst conditions on people with mobility disabilities while at the same time excluding them from the most beneficial programs within the jail. These conditions have dire mental and physical consequences and are in flagrant violation of the law.”

On April 5, U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. certified the class as “[a]ll current and future detainees and prisoners at Shasta County Jail with mobility disabilities who, because of their disabilities, need appropriate accommodations, modifications, services, and and/or physical access in accordance with federal and state disability laws.”

“No one should have to endure the pervasive and dehumanizing abuse that disabled prisoners in Shasta County have suffered,” said Taylor Gooch of Keker, Van Nest & Peters, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “This settlement goes a long way to restore these individuals’ legally protected rights.”

“This settlement is most the comprehensive and protective settlement of its type in the California prison and jail system,” Steven P. Ragland, lead counsel for the inmates’ class, said. “We hope it will serve as a model for prison reform.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Steven P. Ragland and Taylor Gooch of Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP; Maronel Barajas, Anna Rivera, and Mallory Sepler-King of the Disability Rights Legal Center; and Jon Atabek of Atabek & Associates.

The case is Jewett et. al. vs. Shasta County Sheriff’s Department et. al., Case No. 2:13-cv-0882 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California.