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Agency sues DOC over mentally ill prisoners

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A state agency created in response to a federal mandate is suing the Indiana Department of Correction for what it claims is poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal suit in the Southern District of Indiana Wednesday on behalf of the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services, which stands up for the rights and interests of Hoosiers with developmental and other disabilities.

In Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission v. Indiana DOC Commissioner, No. 1:08-cv-1317, the 15-page suit alleges violations of the Constitution and Americans with Disabilities Act in that mentally ill prisoners aren't receiving adequate treatment and often are held in isolated conditions detrimental to their recovery.

The suit specifically points to conditions at the newly opened New Castle Correctional Facility where since the summer the DOC has secured 67 prisoners the agency identifies as being seriously mentally ill. Prisoners in the unit are confined in isolation for 23 hours a day, with one hour of individual recreation time allowed each day and a solitary shower three times a week, the suit claims.

In describing how prisoners receive recreation in a small, barred room and are fed in their cells without access to others, the suit notes that, "It is not a program that will adequately and effectively treat mental illness. Confinement in virtual isolation exacerbates the illnesses of those who are mentally ill and is extremely deleterious to the mental health of ... prisoners."

The suit requests a preliminary injunction that can eventually be made permanent and also asks for all plaintiff costs and attorney fees.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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