Attorneys who represent California inmates are asking a federal judge to expand the court's oversight of prison mental health care to include the Department of State Hospitals.
The department is responsible for treatment at some of California's 33 adult prisons, including one in Soledad that is at the center of the current legal tussle between the state and inmate advocates.
The advocates say two recent examples show that mental health treatment has not improved sufficiently in the prison system despite years of federal oversight. They said two inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison died despite having histories of trying to harm themselves.
State officials told U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton during opening statements Wednesday that the state is providing proper care. The hearing is expected to last several days.