Mental health

New wrongful death lawsuit raises more questions about coming Rikers Island reforms

On February 11th, the Associated Press reported that the mother of deceased Rikers Island inmate Quannell Offley was suing New York City for her son’s wrongful death. The lawsuit is one of many facing the city over Rikers Island and comes after months of reports detailing abuse and neglect by the city’s prison staff. According to the lawsuit, Offley told prison guards on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill himself after being placed in solitary confinement. His final threat [Continue reading]

Report: Corizon’s “flagrantly inadequate, substandard and dangerous” care killed Rikers prisoner Bradley Ballard

The New York State Commission on Correction released a new report this week, detailing the findings from its investigation into the horrific and preventable death of mentally ill black inmate, Bradley Ballard. Ballard was left in his cell for six days straight in September, 2013. Guards shut the water off to his cell for over four days, and not once during that time was he treated for his schizophrenia and diabetes. On the rare occasion that he was seen by a medical worker, their talks [Continue reading]

NYC Doubles Down on Solitary Confinement with Latest Rikers “Reforms”

The AP reports that the NYC Board of Correction (BOC) will vote this coming Tuesday on changes to solitary confinement on Rikers Island, including a new Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit (ESHU) for the prison’s “most dangerous” inmates and policies that seek to limit punitive segregation for other inmates, particularly the mentally ill and juveniles aged 16-21. The proposed BOC rules also include: Ending isolation for ‘owed time‘ Ending isolation for [Continue reading]

Rikers Island Reform: the Good, the Bad and the Omitted

After a summer and fall wracked with reports of violence, corruption and abuse on Rikers Island, it seems like change, in some form, is finally on its way. Growing protests over law enforcement brutality and the advent of prosecutions, federal lawsuits, committee reports and policy changes now conspire to face down many of the NYC Dept. of Corrections’ worst demons. Some of the possible reforms have yet to germinate, such as those stemming from the Justice [Continue reading]

New Report Shows Juvenile, Mentally Ill Abuses Continue Under NYCDOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte

The Bronx Defenders recently put out a report on the use of solitary confinement at Rikers Island amid a growing number of reports of violence, abuse and mismanagement at the facility. The study, titled Voices from the Box (PDF), surveyed 59 inmates between July 2013 and August 2014 and it confirms the horrifying and widespread use of solitary confinement against adolescent and mentally ill inmates. Researchers found that half of Rikers prisoners in solitary were between the ages of 16 [Continue reading]

Mentally Ill School Shooter TJ Lane Escapes Violent, Overcrowded Ohio Prison

#TJLane I've been asked whether he is a danger. Answer is no one ever wants to return to prison for a life sentence. Plus, case facts speak. — Ian Friedman (@IanNFriedman) September 12, 2014 UPDATE: Lane has been captured. What’s next? — In April, Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) inspected the Allen Oakwood Correctional Center. They found the facility overcrowded and over capacity, but still gave it ‘high marks.’ The committee [Continue reading]

Prisons Are Obsolete: California Mental Health Edition

California corrections officials have reached an agreement on changes to the treatment of mentally ill inmates held in solitary confinement at their facilities. The special attention is long overdue. The mentally ill are some of the most vulnerable people within the American prison system, and the abuse that prompted U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton to rule California’s treatment of mentally ill inmates was ‘cruel and unusual’ typifies the prison system’s failures to [Continue reading]

Florida Announces ‘Sweeping Changes’ After Mentally Ill Inmate Burned to Death in Shower by Prison Guards

NBC Miami is reporting that the Florida Department of Corrections has announced ‘sweeping changes’ to the state’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners. The reforms come after the horrific murder of Darren Rainey: a developmentally disabled man who died after prison guards locked him in a scalding hot shower. Among the changes are: expanded training for officers to deal with emergencies; specific centers where inmates can get specialized counseling for life after incarceration; [Continue reading]

The Weak Pursuit of Accountability for Rikers Island’s ‘Culture of Brutality’

The New York Times’ reporting work on Rikers Island is starting to make some government officials squirm. But at the end of the day, emerging punishments and accountability measures seem to fall painfully short of addressing the devolving health and safety situation there. The Times first covered the rise in assaults on civilian employees working at the facility back in May, and then followed up in July with a brutal portrayal of life for its prisoners. Now the Occupational Safety and [Continue reading]

Another Mentally Ill Inmate Dies in Restraint Chair, Sparking Lawsuit

On Wednesday, the Tri-City Herald reported that Franklin County, Washington is being sued for allegedly ‘inhumane and barbaric practices’ that have put mentally ill inmates in harms way. The suit is being brought by Columbia Legal Services, a Seattle-based legal aid organization that is working on behalf of mistreated inmates at Franklin County Jail. Lawyers allege that Franklin County is one of the worst jails in the country. The mental health needs of inmates are ignored and they [Continue reading]
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