* From last December…
The Illinois Department of Corrections has taken considerable steps to enhance the delivery of care for offenders who are on the mental health caseload. The Department remains focused on fully complying with the terms of the Rasho v Baldwin settlement agreement… The Department remains committed to ensuring that mentally ill men and women receive the treatment that is essential to their wellbeing, rehabilitation and reentry into society.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael M. Mihm issued an opinion Friday in the class action case Rasho v. Baldwin ordering the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide mental health treatment to prisoners who are on “crisis watches” and in segregation, as well as to provide medication management, mental health evaluations and necessary mental health staff throughout the system.
The judge ruled that IDOC’s failure to provide mental health care constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, as well as violates the settlement agreement that the department entered.
In a 42-page decision, Mihm found that IDOC’s deliberate indifference to mentally ill prisoners is causing “irreparable harm” that requires the court to issue injunctive relief. The court decision states that the constraints faced by IDOC “are dwarfed by the immense harm to the inmates.”
“These are mentally ill individuals, who themselves are left, in a very real way, at the mercy of the IDOC to provide them with the constitutionally minimal level of health care. And this is simply not being done, and based on the record presented, will not be done unless there is a preliminary injunction issued by this Court.”
This order comes almost two years to the day after a settlement agreement was reached by IDOC and lawyers representing the more-than 12,000 prisoners with mental illness in Illinois. The original class action challenge to the treatment of prisoners with mental illness was filed in 2007.
* The order is here…
The testimony during the hearing shows deficiencies in medical treatment in segregation have created an extremely dangerous situation. The length of time, sometimes staggering, that inmates are put in segregation, without properly addressing their mental health medical needs, furthers the mental decomposition of the inmate.