Disabled and wheelchair-bound inmates at the LA County Jails have will get a bit of relief.
Elected officials said they will be moving forward with plans to redesign the county lock-ups to ensure the facilities are ADA compliant. This, according to sources, ends a six-year long legal battle.
Inmates have long complained that bathrooms were not wheelchair accessible and because of that, some people were soiling themselves. Others were falling out of their chairs altogether because they do not have wall-bars to grab onto.
Getting in and out of shower facilities posed a whole other list of dangerous situations.
Attorneys alleged some wheelchair bound inmates were even disciplined for refusing to stand up when corrections officers demanded it. One of the plaintiffs said the situation was so bad that he was sitting on his chair's metal frame because the seat pad had worn away.
Not only had he fallen quite a few times trying to get from his wheelchair onto a toilet, but his chair also lacked proper brakes.
At one point, deputies ordered him to use crutches or a walker. When he refused, they put him in a segregation unit for more than 100 days.
Another inmate says he spent nearly three weeks in solitary confinement for a similar reason.
Details of the settlement
Although the settlement still needs to be approved by a federal judge, a number of improvements will be made at the county detention centers. Functioning wheelchairs will be given to inmates who need them, which will allow them greater access to vocational and educational programs.
The county has also agreed to pay their attorney's fees.
As it stands, parts of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility have already started to undergo renovations. Two wings now have wheelchair accessible washroom and bathroom facilities. It has also hired an ADA coordinator.
A spokesperson for the ACLU has confirmed that their clients conditions have improved, but she questions why the county fought so hard to defend the lawsuit. It's not like they could dispute their facilities lacked basic American with Disabilities Act-mandated accommodations.
Twin Towers officials said they have already spent more than $100,000 to buy 118 wheelchair-accessible beds. There are plans to spend another $800,000 on 96 additional beds and renovations.