Pennsylvania’s policy with respect to serious mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement will now change as a result of a settlement reached last week, between the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. Many of the Pennsylvania inmates had been placed in solitary confinement for behavioral issues which were caused by their severe mental illnesses.
Inmates were confined to a minimum of twenty three hours a day in isolated cells. The solitary confinement would often aggravate and intensify the mental diseases.
Under the terms of the settlement, inmates considered dangerous to staff and other inmates will now have a minimum of twenty hours a week outside of their cells under supervision. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections will also implement more effective procedures to diagnose and treat inmates with serious mental illnesses. Both parties to the settlement agreed that inmates will now “serve their sentences in a way that does not punish them merely for having a serious mental illness.”
We can only hope that other states will also adopt similar humane policies regarding the use of solitary confinement and the treatment of inmates with mental diseases.
By: Bradley D. Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com