The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a motion to intervene in Disability Rights California v. Alameda County and a proposed settlement agreement with Alameda County, California, and private plaintiffs to resolve allegations that the county violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its provision of mental health services.
Specifically, the proposed settlement agreement would resolve the department’s findings that Alameda County fails to provide services to qualified individuals with mental health disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Instead, the department found that the county places too many people with mental illness into institutions such as John George Psychiatric Hospital and other facilities. In Olmstead v. L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title II of the ADA requires public entities, in providing services to persons with disabilities, to do so in their homes and communities when appropriate services can reasonably be provided in those settings to individuals who want them.
“It’s time to bring an end to the unnecessary incarceration and over-institutionalization of people with mental health disabilities in our country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “People with mental health disabilities have the right to live in their own homes and communities with services that are effective in supporting their recovery instead of being relegated to repeated hospitalization and avoidable involvement with the criminal justice system. This agreement reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that people with mental illness can access the care they need free from unnecessary barriers.”
The proposed settlement agreement requires the county to provide timely mobile crisis response services throughout the county and intensive mental health, housing, and employment services. The agreement addresses planning for people being discharged from psychiatric facilities and the Santa Rita Jail to help strengthen connections to critical mental health services. The proposed settlement also requires the county to reach out and engage proactively with people who have serious mental illness.
The department appreciates the collaboration with plaintiffs’ counsel from Disability Rights California, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho. The department recognizes Alameda County for its commitment to compliance with the ADA.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.
Members of the public may report possible civil right violations at www.civilrights.justice.gov.
View the filing here.