Countywide : Jury Suggests Changes in Disturbed Inmates’ Care

The Orange County Grand Jury recommended changes Thursday in the way mentally disturbed inmates are housed at the Orange County Jail, saying that current procedures are riddled with problems.

The panel said inmates with mental disorders and histories of violent behavior should be housed only in the infirmary or an isolation cell while at the jail, rather than being transferred to regular housing on the decision of one doctor.

In addition, the jurors said inmates transferred from mental institutions to the jail, even without a history of violence, should be kept in the infirmary or the mental-ward cell for the duration of their jail confinement whenever possible.

The jury’s study is one of several by the panel into jail conditions after several deaths at the Santa Ana facility.


Earlier this month, Paul Pinkerton, 19, who was considered a suicide risk, apparently hanged himself in a psychiatric observation cell at the jail, investigators said.

Without mentioning that incident, the grand jurors said deputies regularly file reports when an jail inmate exhibits unusual behavior, but that the reports are often ignored by the Correctional Mental Health staff. The deputies work for the Sheriff’s Department, but the mental health workers work for the county Health Care Agency.