* Christine Herman at Illinois Public Media…
The Illinois Department of Corrections continues to flounder in its efforts to care for inmates with mental illness, according to a new report authored by Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist and court-appointed monitor on a 2016 settlement agreement on a class-action lawsuit. […]
The report singles out Pontiac Correctional Center for having a “culture of abuse and retaliation” against mentally ill inmates.
The monitoring team found both an “informal use of force and retaliation system” and “evidence of intimidation of the mental health staff at Pontiac by the custody staff”—problems that have persisted since the lawsuit was settled 30 months ago.
“It is my opinion as Monitor that the Department has not done anything to effectively address this ongoing problem at Pontiac,” wrote Dr. Stewart, adding that he is “absolutely convinced” that staff are physically assaulting mentally ill inmates there.
We as a state don’t provide decent mental health care for our residents, then we turn jails and prisons into de facto mental health centers, then we abuse the mentally ill inmates and people trying to help them. Wonderful.
* From the report…
I have also encountered the presence of an elaborate system of retaliation perpetrated by the custody staff against the mentally ill offenders at Pontiac. These retaliatory acts include, but are not limited to:
1. Withholding of food/visits/phone calls.
2. Not allowing certain mentally ill offenders to attend required structured or unstructured activities.
3. Setting up certain mentally ill offenders for assault by labeling them “snitches.”
4. Providing mentally ill offenders with the means for them to perform self-injurious behaviors (i.e. staples, paperclips, or other sharp objects.)
5. Planting incriminating evidence in the cells of mentally ill offenders, such as weapons or other forms of contraband.
During my site visits, I often encounter mentally ill offenders who present with injuries to their heads and face. I have even encountered mentally ill offenders with newly missing teeth and physical exam evidence of recent trauma to their faces. If I had encountered these types of injuries with my own patients, I would be obligated to report them to the police.
There’s more, so go read the whole thing if you can stomach it.