The Alabama mental health care system that is supposed to look after mentally ill prisoners is set to go on trial Monday, December 4th, 2016. The attorneys representing the incarcerated population of Alabama express their discontent with the way prisoners are treated.
On the list of the abuses solitary confinement while mentally unstable, overlooking suicide attempts, and disregarding extremely violent outbursts are only some of the issues encountered among the inmates. Rather than providing extensive programs that could help the inmates recover, the Alabama prisons only allow the mental health staff to deliver treatment between brief cell visits.
Maria Morris is an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. She claims that the conditions the mentally unstable inmates must deal with do not even rise to the minimal standards required by the Constitution. Several other attorneys have also supported her claim, saying that Alabama prisons proved themselves inadequate for mentally ill prisoners.
In the past, Alabama has made several changes to the prison system but only as far as women inmates were concerned. However, the change only occurred after the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in, pointing out the sexual abuses the female prisoners had to endure.
Moreover, the Alabama prisons currently house twice the population they can handle by design, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier this year, in September, a prison guard died from multiple stab wounds as a consequence of an unfortunate event that occurred at a prison located in southern Alabama. Moreover, this particular holding facility was also the site of two riots which ended up with inmates setting multiple fires, seizing control of a dormitory, and ultimately stabbing the warden.
While the state is aware of the situation, the officials have repeatedly objected against the multiple accusations of inadequate mental health care. Today, the Department of Corrections is collaborating with a private institution in order to provide mental health care services for the inmates. According to the reports, there have been approximately 3,400 inmates reported to suffer from a severe form of mental illness. Many of them are receiving psychotropic medications.
“We are going to defend the case as vigorously as we can”, said Dunn.
Jeff Dunn, the Alabama Corrections Commissioner did not comment further on the litigation. The non-jury trial will start on Monday, December 4th, 2016, with Myron Thompson, U.S. District Judge presenting.
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