San Bernardino County Sheriff

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 02/26/16 – 2:46 PM PST |

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Friday announced that a Berkeley-based prisoner rights organization will be filing a class action lawsuit alleging the conditions at county jails violate inmate civil rights.

In a news release, the Sheriff’s Department said the Prison Law Office will file the lawsuit Monday, and the department defended itself against the claims in the lawsuit that have yet to be made public.

“The county of San Bernardino denies the allegations, but has been working with the Prison Law Office for more than a year to address the claims in the lawsuit,” according to the Sheriff’s Department news release. “The county and the Prison Law Office both fully expect that they will continue to work together to resolve the claims as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

The Prison Law Office has been working with the Sheriff’s Department over the last two years to resolve the issues surrounding conditions at county jails, primarily the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. and the Sheriff’s Department in response ramped up law enforcement, medical and mental health staffing levels at the jails. The department also invested millions of dollars in upgrades at West Valley, which included additional security cameras and electronic kiosks that allow inmates to file grievances digitally.

It was unclear Friday what prompted the Prison Law Office to go the litigation route.

Sheriff’s Lt. Brad Toms, who heads the department’s public affairs divison, declined to comment further Friday.

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