At the ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado, the Department of Justice’s inspector general found mentally ill inmates held in solitary confinement despite a 2014 change in policy meant to improve their care. Brennan Linsley/Associated Press
Filed 6:29 p.m.
Federal Watchdog Finds Mentally Ill Are Stuck in Solitary
A new report contradicts a claim from the Bureau of Prisons.
By Justin George
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons faced stinging criticism over its treatment of mentally ill prisoners Wednesday with the release of a federal watchdog report that found the agency locks some of its most troubled inmates in solitary confinement conditions for long stretches at a time.
The report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General paints a picture of an agency ill-prepared to identify and tend to prisoners with mental illness despite a 2014 policy change that was supposed to boost care for those inmates.
Much of the report looked at conditions for the mentally ill in so-called Restrictive Housing Units, where the most difficult inmates are held.
The government investigation found the agency imprisons inmates in solitary conditions even though though it claims that it does not use solitary confinement.
“Although BOP states that it does not practice solitary confinement, or even recognize the term, we found inmates, including those with mental illness, who were housed in single-cell confinement for long periods of time, isolated from other inmates and with limited human contact,” the report states.
For example, at ADX Florence, a supermax facility that houses the federal system’s most dangerous inmates, federal investigators found two mentally ill inmates confined to individual cells for 22 hours a day. For the other two hours, they couldn’t engage with each other — or any other inmate.
Elsewhere, they found a man with mental illness who had been kept in a single cell for about four years, and another they said had “serious” issues who had spent nearly two decades in Florence before he was moved to a secure mental health treatment program.
At Florence, inmates with mental illnesses were found to be in isolating conditions for an average of 69 months. In contrast, many states limit such arrangements for those with mental illness to no more than 30 days, the report stated.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesman declined to comment on the report. In a response to a draft, Thomas Kane, the agency’s acting director, said the BOP would adopt all 15 of the Inspector General’s recommendations.
The Bureau of Prisons has long faced skepticism and scrutiny of its assertion that it does not use solitary confinement — including at a 2015 Senate hearing. Of about 154,000 inmates in federal custody, more than 10,000, or about 6 percent, are held in some form of restrictive housing, according to the agency.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the prison system doesn’t limit how long prisoners can be kept under such conditions or track how long they are there.
“This was particularly concerning given that the [Bureau of Prisons] recognizes that inmates’ mental health can deteriorate while in restrictive housing,” Horowitz said.
Inmates with mental illnesses spent disproportionately longer periods of time in restrictive housing than other inmates, the federal probe said.
Even at a most basic level, the bureau does not seem to know how much of its population is in need of mental treatment, the report said. The bureau has released various estimates that can be contradicted just months later by it own staff.
In 2015, for example, only 3 percent of the federal inmate population was receiving mental health treatment, even though an internal study estimated that 19 percent of inmates had a history of mental illness. At the same time, the agency’s chief psychiatrist estimated that 40 percent of the prison population has a mental illness.
In some cases, prison officials appeared to deliberately undercount prisoners with mental illness, the report said.
After the agency adopted a new policy in 2014 to better care for mentally ill inmates, the total number of prisoners receiving regular treatment fell by 30 percent. It fell by 60 percent for inmates with illnesses considered to be the most serious. The report alleged that prison officials may have reduced the number of inmates who need treatment because “they did not have the necessary staffing resources to meet the policy’s increased treatment standards.”
The problem does not just affect the prisons, the report said: Many of the prisoners are then released to their communities with serious, untreated problems. It is not known if any of them were re-arrested.
The Bureau of Prisons has not kept statistics on recidivism rates — another issue the Inspector General’s Office pointed out.
by Mariposa McCall From 2010-2011, while working as a contract psychiatrist for the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) providing supportive therapy and medication management for San Quentin State Prison (SQSP) inmates, I was inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and reminded of our shared humanity. When I returned to CDCr in […]
You’re not alone in the Lone Star State. With just 10.5 psychiatric beds per 100,000 people — far below the recommended 40-60 beds — Texas has fallen short in mental health support. But some new bipartisan agreements on state legislation, supplemented by federal funding, are allowing Texas to lay the groundwork for greater psychiatric care, even as federal support for public health is in question. The starting point: Overlooked populations like 18- to 25-year-olds, who often get caught between programs aimed specifically at children or adults.
Federal Judge Sees New York State Conspiracy to Thwart Care for Mentally Ill
The judge who oversaw landmark case involving troubled homes for the mentally ill sends word to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that state’s efforts to undermine care must end.
A federal judge in Brooklyn has accused state officials of secretly trying to subvert a landmark court order to improve care for thousands of mentally ill residents of New York City.
Three years ago, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ended a prolonged lawsuit against New York state by ordering the Department of Health to begin moving as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents housed in group homes to less restrictive environments where they could live more independently. As part of his order, the judge had laid out a timetable for the state to meet its obligations to men and women who had long lived in homes marked by neglect and abuse.
But at a hearing last month, Garaufis angrily charged that officials with the Department of Health appeared to have hatched a plan with the operators of the troubled group homes to get out from under his court order. …
By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU
Her cell was so dirty that a sock rotted into an open wound on her foot. For two and a half years, she didn’t have a bed. She slept on a mat on the floor. She bled on herself, because the jail denied her sanitary napkins.
Jan Green, a 51-year-old grandmother, never even stood trial. Because of the dramatic mood swings and psychosis associated with her bipolar disorder, Green was found unfit to stand trial – which meant that she should’ve been hospitalized to get the intensive mental health care she needed.
The opposite happened. Quickly after her booking, someone inside the jail made a medical record saying Green should “see psychiatrist ASAP,” as she was hallucinating. Green was never treated by a psychiatrist during her time in a New Mexico jail. Instead, she was placed into a 7-foot-by-8-foot, where she would spend at least 22 hours a day in total isolation for long stretches of her time behind bars. Solitary confinement only made her sicker; like so many others subjected to prolonged isolation, her mental health further deteriorated.
Ms. Green might still be there, waiting for trial. But the charges against her for two minor instances of domestic violence were finally dropped, and she got to go home to her family.
Solitary’s Horrifying Pervasiveness
This nauseating story, sadly, is not unique. There are now more than 200,000 womenlocked in jails and prisons in this country. These women are routinely subjected to solitary confinement, spending at least 22 hours a day in cells the size of a parking spot, without human interaction for days, weeks, or months at a time.
The negative psychological impacts of solitary confinement are well known. What’s received less attention are the unique harms women suffer from the extended social and sensory deprivation of solitary confinement. Today, we released a new paper, Worse than Second Class, which fills this gap.
It’s important to debunk the myth that solitary confinement is only used against “the worst of the worst.” In fact, solitary is often used on the most vulnerable: pregnant women, individuals with mental illness, transgender women, and—shockingly—victims who report sexual assault by prison guards. And because guards often have discretion to impose it, solitary can be meted out for incredibly petty reasons, such as possessing “contraband,” like postage stamps or banned reading material; refusing meals; or “mouthing off” at an officer or another prisoner.
Mental illness can contribute to these kinds of behavioral infractions, which means that female prisoners may be particularly susceptible to being locked in solitary. Among prisoners in federal facilities, almost fifty percent more women than men have beendiagnosed with mental health conditions. And much higher numbers of women in state prisons and local jails are reported to suffer from mental health problems than similarly situated men.
Women are also at particular risk of being locked in solitary because women report past physical or sexual abuse, as well as other traumas, at a higher rate than their male counterparts. Again and again, stories arise in which women who report rape and other abuse by corrections officers are sent to solitary confinement. Women who have been sexually abused by prison guards are thus forced to face another painful dilemma: decide between reporting the attack and risking retaliation or not reporting it and risking further assault.
As the number of incarcerated women climbs at an alarming pace, women and their families and communities are increasingly affected by what happens behind bars. It is unacceptable that women like Jan Green are sent to solitary to disappear, suffering without needed medical care. It is unacceptable that a guard can retaliate against a woman for reporting a sexual assault by locking her in solitary. The time is now to address the treatment of women in prison—especially those women subjected to the social and sensory deprivation of solitary confinement.
Read Worse than Second-Class to learn more about the unique harms and dangers of subjecting women prisoners to solitary confinement and the reforms needed to address them.
Last Friday, officers with the Vallejo Police Department in California responded to a 911 call that claimed a man was acting crazy at a gas station. According to witnesses, the first officer who arrived on the scene chased the man for several minutes before he gave up and sat down. When the officer tried to put him in cuffs, the man resisted, and the cop proceeded to wail on him with his flashlight and fists. Bystanders approached the officer to criticize his actions and yell expletives at him, and at one point he responded by pulling his gun and pointing it at one of them. The following video captured the incident.
The man in the video is clearly mentally ill, and can be heard repeatedly yelling “I am God.” This video is further proof that cops in general are not very good at dealing with the mentally ill. In fact, statistics show that the mentally ill are 16 times more likely to be killed by the police than the general population.
Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told CBS News that he thought that the initial use of force was appropriate, but that beating the suspect after backup arrived and drawing a gun on the crowd was out of line. “I understand the officer needed to try to keep the people from getting close to him…I don’t necessarily agree that’s the best use of force. I does look bad. It does appear inappropriate.”
CHILDREN IN SHADOW ::: CHILDREN IN WAR“I COULD NOT SEE THE SUN FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS” – A LITTLE BOY IN PRISON/SOLITARY TOLD” WISH THAT NO CHILD HAS TO LIVE IN SHADOW! Photo pebbles foto – Bing images
Free Melanie Shaw from her incarceration in Solitary Confinement at HMP Peterborough.
Why is this important?
When Melanie came foward with evidence of systematic Child Abuse & murder she was shining a light in to dark corners for which she should have been thanked and protected. Instead of protecting Melanie, Nottingham police harassed, threatened and bullied her. From threatening phone calls, to being followed by police cars, to false arrests, to having a mob of police smash their way into her home. Why? Possibly because she not only reported abuse of children but also spoke of murder. She was also astute enough to expose the police lying in the conduct of their investigation Operation Daybreak.
Terrified, alone and unable to access proper counselling and psychiatric help, Melanie has now been found guilty of imprisoning a male paramedic.
Convicted in a secret court where the Judge denied her access to the representation she wished and was entitled to, with no jury or public gaze, Melanie was again imprisoned in HMP Peterborough. Meanwhile, denied her benefits and without the ability to find out why they were stopped, the local housing company Nottingham Homes started action to take her house.https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/free-melanie-shaw-child-abuse-whistleblower
“Patients that come here, they will have perpetrated often horrendous crimes but they are also victims and it’s very easy to see somebody as either the perpetrator or the victim. It’s much more difficult to understand that somebody might be both.” Dr Amlan Basu, Clinical Director. Broadmoor, the most famous high secure hospital in the world, has allowed unprecedented access to television cameras for this new two-part ITV documentary. For the first time in its 150 year history, the viewing public will see the innermost parts of this iconic institution in this two part series. The hospital in Berkshire, often mistaken for a prison, helps treat severely mentally disordered patients many of whom are violent offenders. It’s best known for its high profile patients such as Charles Bronson, Ronnie Kray, Peter Sutcliffe and Kenneth Erskine. Filmed over the course of a year, with extensive access to the hospital, the programmes paint a picture of life inside Broadmoor for both staff and patients. It’s the first time that patients have been allowed to tell their stories themselves and cameras follow patients while they meet psychiatrists, open up about their violent backgrounds, visit the hospital shop and participate in workshops.
In the first programme, cameras are present when one patient refuses medication and it has to be forcibly administered. Another patient with a history of violence on the intensive care ward refuses to return to his room and has to be physically restrained and moved by staff. In one interview, a patient reveals he has never been able to articulate the details of his violent offence and another man speaks about his frighteningly abusive childhood during a session with his psychiatrist. Interviews with staff reveal that on high dependency wards violent incidents occur every other day. For patients in Broadmoor there is no fixed term for their stay so although it is hard to be committed there, it is even harder to get out. 35% of men come from prison, 35% from the court system, 25% from medium secure psychiatric units and 5% from other high-secure hospitals.
In the second programme, a patient describes his life as ‘satanic’ and shares details of his neglected and abusive childhood, and another patient who has spent over a decade in Broadmoor is considered finally well enough to leave. Cameras follow patients taking part in a group drugs counselling session and capture staff taking part in riot training. For many people, Broadmoor is seen as a place to house the country’s most violent criminals but one of its roles it to try to rehabilitate patients.
The NHS can’t cope with our society’s mentally ill, so the crisis is hidden behind bars
The government may not mean to kill people with mental disabilities but it’s deeds, not motives, that matter, and when the coalition subtracted political cost from economic gain, it found those with disabilities were the easiest people in Britain to dispose of.Mental health is the NHS’s Cinderella service, even in good times. In recession, it’s hammered. Simon Stevens, the new chief executive as NHS England, has given us his priorities. He gabbles that he wants to “future proof” the NHS “against challenges ahead”.
In plain English, he means cut budgets. He will insist on exceptions, of course, most notably for Britain’s ageing population. No one dissents because we will all be old one day.
It is harder to raise a tear for the mentally ill.
We pity the “victims” of ageing and conventional illnesses and talk of their “bravery” because we can imagine ourselves in their position. Few talk of the victimhood or bravery of those who must live in a world where they are routinely bullied and despised.
Mental health trusts must save almost 20% more than conventional hospitals. Places of safety are vanishing, and people who ought to be mentally disabled patients are the inmates of the one British institution that treats them with greater disdain than the NHS. …. please read more https://www.theguardian.com/profile/nickcohen