California Prisons

A sign warns care givers and correctional officers that protective vests are required in one of the treatment areas at the newly opened mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Solano County

CMF Vacaville shows off new mental health facility

By From page A1 | February 15, 2013

VACAVILLE — The California Medical Facility at Vacaville presented its new three-story building Thursday that consolidates the prison’s mental health services to one area.

The $24 million project was shown off as media, prison officials and other guests toured the 44,000-square-foot building that is known as the O Wing. Staff touted the Enhanced Outpatient Program Treatment and Office Space as a national model that addresses mental health issues for inmates.

Many who spoke said it is also likely to help California progress through the oversight process that U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton and his special master have been critical of in past years.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has spent more than $1.3 billion since 2009 to improve mental health, said Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the CDRC. Fifteen of the 33 state prisons have undergone some kind of construction to improve mental health facilities.

“It’s time for the federal courts to recognize the progress the state has made and end costly and unnecessary federal oversight,” Beard said before the tours.

The third story of the building is where the psych administrative segregated inmates receive treatment. Some of those were being treated Thursday and were escorted by a correctional officer at all times.

Several rooms lined one wall of the floor, some containing several cages the prison calls therapeutic treatment modules. This allows for group therapy in the rooms while limiting the chances for incidents among the inmates.

“They’re in (administrative segregation) for a reason. They’re contained so they don’t hurt anyone,” said David Silbaugh, chief of mental health at CMF. “This building means more to us then just increased treatment space.”

The new space also means a new environment to receive help. Instead of meeting with staff in crowded and loud areas, it’s now taking place in private and calm areas.

Other areas include rooms for counseling and similar services, where the inmates are separated by glass from those treating them. The well-lit rooms are a major improvement from the past areas where inmates were treated. Some of those were old offices and converted closets, Silbaugh said.

The bottom two floors provide similar services, however are offered to those in general population. Those floors are more spacious and allow prisoners to come and go without escorts. Offices line one wall while group meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 14 people at a time are on the other.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.

Danny Bernardini

Danny Bernardini

Danny is a newspaper man born and raised in Vacaville. He attended Chico State University and has written for the Enterprise Record and the Reporter. Covers the City of Fairfield, education and crime. A's, Warriors and Saints fan. Listener of vinyl, frequent visitor to the East Bay. Registered "decline to state" voter. Loves a good steak.

Discussion | 5 comments

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  • PatriotFebruary 15, 2013 - 6:11 am

    wow, $24 million to give inmates better mental health care..They get better care than the folks on the outside..I would love to get the results of all of this money spent on the inmates..

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  • ceeFebruary 15, 2013 - 10:51 am

    Sir, you will begin to see the effects of NOT having money set aside for the mental health of the inmates shortly. The public has a lock them up and throw away the key mentality. I've been to prison, I didn't have mental health issues before I went, but I experience them on a daily basis now. Being caged up , treated like an animal has made me more aggressive and quicker to anger because in there, if you don't fight, you get killed. So, you push the lock them up attitude and then you release individuals like me back into society and you expect different results. One of the things I learned in prison (in one of the mental health groups you decry, no less) is if you want different results, you must do different from your previous ways. We keep saying lock them up and throw away the key...Watching the news everynight on TV, can you Honestly say that idea is working?

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  • PatriotFebruary 15, 2013 - 3:34 pm

    I would answer your comments with if your do the crime you should do the time..I would not shed one tear for an inmate spending time more than deserved in our facility..Most times it is their 100th crime they have truly committed before they actually get locked up..No tears here!!

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  • DebbieApril 01, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    This is the first time online and to comment on this.My son has a mental illness and is at Vacaville confinement.What are they supposed to do when they come out???

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensFebruary 15, 2013 - 7:06 am

    Its not big enough to accommodate your entire lunatic state of big taxing and spending government parasites along with all the euro styled socialists your State is so enamored of.

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