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Calif. drops conflict claim against prison monitor

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013

Despite the administration's arguments, Bien said California still fails to provide proper care to inmates.

Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld of San Francisco is the lead law firm in the mental health lawsuit on behalf of inmates. Attorneys led by Bien's firm in the case have been paid $19 million by the state since 1997, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

Brown, a Democrat, has repeatedly criticized what he calls "the prison lobby" as he urges federal judges to end the oversight.

All told, taxpayers have spent $182 million during the past 15 years for court-appointed authorities including the special master, and for inmates' attorneys who filed a dozen lawsuits over the treatment of state prisoners, parolees and incarcerated juveniles.

The total exceeds $200 million when state legal costs are added.

Meanwhile, California has doubled its spending on inmates' medical, dental and mental health care from $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2003-04 to $2.3 billion last year.

The state is disputing Lopes' report last month that the state still provides substandard care.

Inmates are dying by suicide at the rate of one every 11 days; inmates can wait weeks before they receive mental health treatment; and the state still has too few mental health staff and beds despite years of costly efforts, Lopes wrote.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento has scheduled a March 27 hearing on whether conditions have improved and the court should end its oversight.