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Indiana ACLU reaches settlement with DOC over treatment of mentally ill prisoners

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) [advocacy website] and the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission (IPAS) [advocacy website] reached a settlement agreement [document, PDF] on Wednesday with the Department of Corrections [official website] over the treatment of mentally ill prisoners. The ACLU of Indiana and IPAS filed suit [complaint, PDF] in 2008 alleging violations of the Eight Amendment [text], the Americans with Disabilities Act [text, PDF], and the Rehabilitation Act [official website]. IPAS and the ACLU claimed that prisoners in Indiana State correctional facilities had infrequent and ineffective contact with mental health professionals and were violently removed from their cells and placed in solitary confinement. The settlement agreement includes [Indiana Lawyer report] not placing seriously mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement and outlines adequate treatment for the prisoners. According to IPAS there are over 5,000 inmates with a mental health diagnosis.

The treatment of prisoners and prison reform [JURIST podcast] has been a growing concern in the US for years. In August, the Department of Justice reached a settlement [JURIST report] with LA prisons on mentally ill inmate care. In May, Human Rights Watch released [JURIST report] a report stating that mentally disabled prisoners experience "unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force" at the hands of prison staff across the US. In April, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in Kingsley v. Hendrickson over the standard that should be applied to excessive-force claims brought by pre-trial detainees. A federal court in February approved [JURIST report] a settlement agreement between the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and the ACLU in a class action lawsuit over the health care system within Arizona prisons. Also in February rights group Equal Justice Under Law filed suit [JURIST report] against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Missouri, for their practice of jailing citizens who fail to pay debts owed to the city for minor offenses and traffic tickets. The ACLU and the ACLU of Texas released a report in 2014 exposing [JURIST report] the results of a multi-year investigation into conditions at five Criminal Alien Requirement prisons in Texas.

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