Lawsuit Seeks to End Segregation of Mentally Ill Prisoners
An advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit today alleging that the state Department of Correction's segregation of mentally ill prisoners in isolated cells for 23 hours a day has led to numerous prisoner suicides and self-mutilations.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Boston by attorneys for the Disability Law Center, seeks to end the practice, which advocates say violates the constitutional rights of several hundred mentally ill inmates in the state prison system, which has a population of about 11,000.
The lawsuit was filed after an intensive yearlong review in which advocates visited inmates at Susan-Baranowski Correctional Facility and MCI-Cedar Junction, toured the units, and reviewed records.
"We had worst fears confirmed," said Stanley J. Eichner, executive director of the Disability Law Center. "The system is broken. These men are being subjected to intolerable conditions which cause them to gravely harm themselves, too often fatally."