(Indianapolis, Ind.) - A federal judge has ruled that the Indiana Department of Correction’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners violates their 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana Judge Tonya Walton Pratt ruled Monday that the inmates held in segregation units at the New Castle Psychiatric Unit were not provided adequate treatment for their mental illnesses. The case relates to an American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana lawsuit filed in 2008.
The judge’s ruling said the Department of Corrections has been deliberately indifferent to the situation.
According to an ACLU statement on the ruling, the IDOC mistreated the inmates by requiring offenders to spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells receiving very limited access to treatment. The situation caused their symptoms and illnesses to get worse.
“(The confinement) often causes significant ‘decompensation’ — an exacerbation of symptoms and illness, including hallucinations, paranoia, depression, self-harm, or even suicide— for persons with pre-existing mental health conditions.”
The ruling also stated that nearly 50 percent of IDOC inmate suicides were committed by mentally ill offenders in similar segregated settings.
Further court hearings will be held to determine what level of mental health care would be suitable for IDOC mentally ill inmates. The judge specifically called for better mental health care at the New Castle Psychiatric Facility.