CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NY Prisoners will Recieve Better Treatment

From Thousands of severely mentally ill inmates in New York's prisons will receive more treatment as part of a landmark settlement in a federal lawsuit brought by prisoner advocates.

The agreement is expected to be signed April 27 by a federal judge and the parties involved.

It was negotiated after five years of litigation and two weeks of a nonjury trial before U.S. District Judge Gerard E. Lynch in New York City.

"This greatly expands the mental health services available within the prison system," said Cliff Zucker, executive director of Disability Advocates, a not-for-profit group in Albany that was the plaintiff.

About 8,000 of the state's 63,000 inmates have been diagnosed with serious mental illness. Hundreds are kept in solitary confinement and studies have shown they are far more likely to commit suicide or injure themselves.

Along with adding staff, resources and new beds for mentally ill inmates, the settlement bans some seemingly barbaric prison practices, such as:

  • Stripping naked mentally inmates suffering an acute psychotic episode, segregating them in a Plexiglas-walled cubicle and leaving them with nothing but a thin pad on a cement floor.
  • The use of punitive "restricted diets," a loaf made from bread and cabbage, for punishment.
  • Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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