Report: California prisoner gouged out and ate her own eye

An inmate at a women's prison in California tore out her own eyeball and ate it while awaiting mental health treatment, according to a state report.

The 2017 incident at California Institution for Women in Chino was detailed in a report by Dr. Michael Golding, chief psychiatrist for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which was made part of a decades-long federal civil case.

The report alleges flaws in how the state provides mental health care for inmates. The document was first reported and detailed by The Los Angeles Times.

In the Chino incident, Golding wrote that the female prisoner seemed mentally healthy when she first entered the prison system, but she refused to take medication that she had been taking prior to entering the system. A prison psychiatrist felt he could not force her to take her medication given that she appeared stable at the time.

After being off her medications for weeks, she was re-evaluated and found to be having serious issues.

On April 20, 2017, a psychologist determined the prisoner was "gravely disabled" and ordered her placed on suicide watch and that she should be observed carefully. At that time, she was described as being in a psychotic state and she was screaming every 15 minutes over a four-hour period.

As she was lying on the floor, she used her left hand to remove her left eye, the report said.

An alarm was sounded and two officers entered the cell. But before they could step in, she ate her own eyeball.

Golding's report criticizes the prison system overall for a lack of adequate mental health care and for concealing some of the problems.

In the Chino incident, he cites a lack of communication between medical staffers and a failure to force the woman to take medication after she showed signs of being psychotic.

"The tragedy is that any competent psychiatric physician or general medical physician would have medicated the patient, and likely the patient's eye would still be in her head had that happened," he wrote.

The CDCR said it disagrees with many of the overall findings and allegations about the mental health system in Golding's report.

"The department strongly disagrees with this individual's allegations, and looks forward to a fair and thorough review and hearing of all the facts," the department wrote.

"We have worked closely with lawyers representing prisoners, as well as the court appointment monitors, for many years to improve the mental health of inmates, and our dedicated and well-trained staff will continue to provide appropriate care and treatment."

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