Jury Wants Disturbed Jail Inmates Segregated

Times Staff Writer

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 in the infirmary or an isolation cell permanently while in 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 during their confinement whenever possible.

The study, one of several grand jury inquiries into jail conditions, followed the deaths of several inmates in the men’s jail in downtown Santa Ana during the past year.


Earlier this month, 19-year-old Paul Pinkerton, 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 jail deputies regularly file reports when an 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. The mental health workers are with the Health Care Agency.