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Judge Threatens Fines For Delayed Calif. Inmate Mental Heath Care

tomsaint / Flickr
 

tomsaint / Flickr

(AP) - A federal judge says she will fine California $1,000 a day if state officials don't start providing swifter care for mentally ill inmates.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said Wednesday that she is fed up with the treatment delays that have plagued the prison mental health system despite two decades of federal oversight.

She gave the state until May 15 to end a chronic backlog in sending inmates to state mental facilities.

The fines would start accumulating May 16, but wouldn't be collected until after a hearing in November to decide if the state complied.

Mueller says previous court rulings haven't worked. State officials did a better job temporarily, only to relapse within a few years.

But the state's lawyers say the threatened fines could violate federal law.