Tag Archives: mental illness

OH: Director views inmate suicides as failures; new steps being taken

From the article: “Prisons officials are taking new steps to prevent suicides: using “safe cells,” disposable paper uniforms, soft food and paper eating utensils for inmates on suicide watch; spot-checking video to make sure corrections officers are making rounds; training employees to be watchful for signs that inmates might be suicidal; and reviewing mental-health assessments done when inmates enter the system. But [Director] Mohr cautioned that no amount of vigilance, precautions and staff attention will stop all inmates who are determined to take their own lives.”

Read more here.

h/t Vera Institute

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IA: Inmate commits suicide in mental health care unit

From the article: “The unit officer discovered Mabe hanging with bed sheet around his neck and tied to a wall vent. An emergency was announced and health services staff and additional security staff responded immediately. The sheet was detached and emergency protocols, including CPR, were used.”

Read more here.

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MN: State pays $400,000 to settle inmate lawsuit

From the article: “Corrections records indicate that Scullark-Johnson was left on the floor of his cell overnight. A senior nurse, who was suspended for five days for violating nursing protocol for dealing with seizures, examined him before ending her shift. An ambulance was ordered when he continued to have seizures the next morning, but a nurse who had just come on duty turned it away. The ambulance returned when he had another seizure, but it was too late.”

Read more here.
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CA: Mental Health Facility Opens for California Inmates

From the article: “The California Men’s Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo will open a mental
health facility for inmates in order to address serious federal concerns
of malpractice in the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (CDCR).”

Read more here.

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ACLU of Pa., others sue Pa. Dept. of Corrections over housing of mentally ill inmates

From the article: “The state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has joined the Disability Network of Pennsylvania in a lawsuit challenging what the attorneys call the unconstitutional treatment of prisoners with serious mental illnesses who are held in solitary confinement.”

Like I said in the post immediately below this one, mentally ill inmates who are disruptive are treated as high security risks and locked down.  And what happens when we lock them down?

“Prolonged isolation under these extremely harsh conditions exacerbates the symptoms of the prisoners’ mental illness, which can include refusing to leave their cells, declining medical treatment, sleeplessness, hallucinations, paranoia, covering themselves with feces, head banging, injuring themselves and prison staff, and suicide,” the complaint reads. “Frequently, these symptoms are regarded as prison rule infractions, which prison officials punish with still more time in the RHU.”

Read more here.

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Lawmakers decry Iowa mental health prison closure

From the article: “The lawmakers who sent the letter expressed concern that prisoners with mental health needs don’t acclimate well to change and by mixing them with the general inmate population it could stimulate behaviors that create an unsafe the working environment for corrections staff.”

There are always tough calls in budget season and it seems as though mental health services generally takes a huge cut.

A spokesman in the Governor’s office is quoted as saying that the new plan:

“more effectively utilizes the department’s resources” and inmates with mental health needs “will receive similar, if not greater, mental health care under this new plan.”

In Ohio, it seems as though there’s a new mental health grand reorganization plan every couple of years, with each one promising greater efficiency and services, but when you step back, it looks like less and less.  I think the problem is that the mentally ill inmate population often don’t know how to advocate for themselves – medical care is an easy, generally identifiable and fixable problem, but mental health care is unseen.  Inmates with mental health issues can remain untreated as long as they are docile, quietly decompensating, and the more disruptive mentally ill are treated as high security risks and locked down.  I hope someone’s watching to see whether the state really does offer “similar, if not greater” mental health care.
Read more here.
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MN: Former Hennepin County inmate says jail was negligent

From the article: “Last March, police brought Michael Schuler to the psychiatric unit of Hennepin County Medical Center where he was kept in restraints. After he was discharged, he was booked into jail because he missed a court date while hospitalized.”

While in the jail, he began to self-mutilate, including stabbing himself in the eyes with a pencil.  Maybe the fact that he came straight from a psychiatric unit should have been a tip-off that he should not have been allowed sharp objects…

Read more here.

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LA: Inmate found dead in OPP allegedly asked for medical help but was refused

From the article: “A mentally ill inmate found dead in his cell had asked for medical help, but did not receive it, according to a new filing in federal court.”

Read more here.

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Report: Women’s pathways to jail: The roles & intersections of serious mental illness & trauma

From the abstract: “This multi-site study addressed critical gaps in the literature by assessing the prevalence of serious mental illness (SMI), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders (SUD) in women in jail and pathways to offending for women with and without SMI.”

Read more here.

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Canada: Prisons watchdog: Some lessons ‘ignored’ since Ashley Smith death

Surveillance footage has recently been released of staff treatment of a mentally ill girl who was housed in a Canadian prison.  The video shows the girl with a hood over her head, duct taped into a suicide blanket, and then duct-taped into a chair.  The girl later committed suicide by hanging herself.

The federal Correctional Investigator, Howard Sapers, said that he was concerned since first seeing the videos five years ago, as well as overall concern regarding how the corrections system handles the mentally ill.  He states that “basic promises, such as allowing mental health professionals to review serious incidents or insuring that mentally ill inmates don’t spend long periods of time in segregation, are not being fulfilled.”

Read more here.
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