Judge orders implementation of ASH raises

Department of Mental Health officials have three weeks to implement pay raises for clinicians who care for mentally ill prisoners at state facilities including Atascadero State Hospital, a federal judge ordered Wednesday.

Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ordered that psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and psychiatric technicians who provide care to mentally ill prisoners receive the same salary as their counterparts in the state corrections department.

The order came two days after Karlton indicated he would order equal pay for psychiatrists and other clinicians who work exclusively with the relatively small class of prisoners in the mental health department¹s care.

Of ASH's roughly 1,000 patients, 81 are classified as mentally ill prisoners, spokeswoman Barrie Hafler said Monday. It was unclear Wednesday how many employees would be affected.

Lawyers for the prisoners have argued the order could put pressure on the state to increase pay for all its employees.

In his order, Karlton also directed the state to report within three weeks how it plans to re-open ASH to the mentally ill prisoner population.

- Stephen Curran

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