"Defendants have a constitutional obligation to take and adequately implement all reasonable steps to remedy those inadequacies. The evidence shows they have not yet done so."
Michael Bien, lead counsel for the inmates, saw the order as a clear win for the 33,000 inmates represented in the suit.
"It is obviously a complete victory for us in our effort to keep our clients alive and ensure adequate treatment," he said. "Hopefully this rebuke by Judge Karlton will cause the state to address the constitutional deficiencies in the care of our clients, who are seriously mentally ill and the most vulnerable inmates in the system."
State corrections officials said they do not agree with the order and will appeal based on their view that California prisons are now providing the best mental health care in the nation.
"We will appeal this decision and are confident that we will prevail," department spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said in an emailed statement. "It's time for this costly and intrusive lawsuit – now in its twenty-third year – to come to an end."