SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is signaling that it could intervene in an ongoing lawsuit over California's treatment of inmates with severe mental illness.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento has scheduled a hearing in November to consider whether the state is violating the rights of severely mentally ill inmates who are kept in solitary confinement for extended periods.
The Justice Department filed a "statement of interest" on Friday noting that earlier this year it determined extended isolation violated mentally ill inmates' rights in a Pennsylvania prison.
The department said it previously found similar abuses in Hawaii, Maryland, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
However, the government's lawyers emphasized that they have not determined whether conditions in California also violate any federal laws.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.