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Mentally ill prisoners suit dismissal denied

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A federal judge has denied the Indiana Department of Correction's motion to dismiss a suit brought last year that challenges the DOC's practices and programs regarding mentally ill patients.

U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton denied the DOC's motion July 21 in Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, No. 1:08-CV-1317, which was filed in the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, in October 2008.

The suit brought by the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services and filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana alleges violations of the Eighth Amendment, the American with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. IPAS claims that prisoners at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City have infrequent contact with mental health professionals; prisoners at the New Castle Correctional Facility are held in cells with solid doors that require them to yell discussions with mental health professionals; and that mentally ill prisoners at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility are often violently removed from their cells.

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

The DOC moved to dismiss the suit under Rule 12(b)(1), arguing IPAS lacks standing to sue on behalf of unidentified individuals and the District Court lacks jurisdiction over an alleged "intramural" dispute between state agencies.

"In fact, this case presents the unusual drama of a state challenging the constitutionality of federal statutes under which the state receives federal funds," wrote Judge Hamilton. "IDOC is challenging whether the federal statutory grant of standing to IPAS - a key condition of federal funding in Indiana - violates Article III of the United States Constitution."

The judge ruled it didn't because IPAS satisfied the constitutional criteria under the Hunt test. The agency also isn't required to identify any specific individuals whose rights actually have been violated. The DOC didn't show in any provision in the Protection and Advocacy of Mentally Ill Individuals Act (PAIMI) or the Indiana statutes creating IPAS that could reasonably be read to require it name specific individuals in bringing a suit to redress violations of the rights of individuals with mental illness.

Judge Hamilton also rejected the DOC's argument that the case must be dismissed because it's an "intramural" dispute between two state agencies. IPAS isn't a traditional state agency; it's independent of the governor and is funded by the federal government under PAIMI.

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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