by Ernest Chavez
A recent Supreme Court decision highlights the “cruel and unusual” conditions of the California prison system. Community organizer Ernest Chavez says inmates with mental health needs, such as Jerome Wilson, illustrate an even deeper systemic problem.
On May 23, 2010, in the landmark decision of Brown v. Plata, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the release of 37,000 prison inmates in California, arguing that the severe overcrowding in the prison facilities has reached a new height of danger – calling the current conditions of the facilities, “cruel and unusual,” and unconstitutional. In a system where tens of thousands of prison inmates suffer from mental illness and mental health issues, it is especially urgent to consider how these individuals will be impacted by this court order.