SACRAMENTO — A federal judge has agreed to reopen hearings on whether California prison officials use excessive force against mentally ill inmates.
The Sacramento Bee reports U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton’s decision Thursday comes after the state said it had launched disciplinary investigations into the death of Joseph Duran. The 35-year-old mentally ill inmate was pepper-sprayed and left alone inside his cell at Mule Creek State Prison last year.
Duran, who breathed through a tube in his throat, was found dead several hours later.
Lawyers for mentally ill inmates are spearheading a long-running class-action lawsuit. They have a challenge pending over the use of pepper spray on their clients.
The lawyers now want information about Duran’s death included in the evidence the judge considers before he rules on the issue.