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ACLU: DOC Needs Better Treatment For Mentally Ill

The ACLU is arguing the Department of Corrections does not provide adequate services for mentally ill people who come under their watch.

Rockville fence

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU-WTIU News

The fence at the Rockville Correctional Facility.

ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk says the Indiana Department of Corrections must come up with new ways to treat some mentally ill patients. The group is speaking out after a federal judge ruled the DOC violated the eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The ACLU argued its clients in the New Castle Correctional Facility Psychiatric Unit were harmed after being segregated and held in units where they did not receive proper treatment.

“We have prisoners who unfortunately committed suicide or who were decompensated in other ways because being placed into isolation or isolated type setting is extremely detrimental to those who are seriously mentally ill,” Falk says, adding some also experienced paranoia, delusions or self-harm.

He says this case is different from the solitary confinement issue involving other inmates.

“Courts have uniformly upheld solitary confinement when it has been challenged in that way. What courts have said and now this court has joined is that if you are seriously mentally ill, solitary confinement is toxic,” Falk says.

The decision by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt follows a bench trial during the summer of 2011. Falk says the judge is convening a meeting involving all parties in the case. They will discuss remedies given violations of the eighth amendment.

Further court proceedings into the matter are expected.

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