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Pennsylvania prisoner rights groups sue jail over mental health concerns
© WikiMedia (Michael Coghlan)
Pennsylvania prisoner rights groups sue jail over mental health concerns

The Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP), and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for discrimination against inmates with psychiatric disabilities.

In the complaint, the groups allege that the jail lacks a functional mental health care system despite having hundreds of inmates with psychiatric disabilities, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The group further alleges that inmates with psychiatric disabilities are subjected to excessive force and solitary confinement, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The groups issued a press release on Tuesday, highlighting the impact the jail’s policies have on incarcerated individuals “These dehumanizing conditions leave a lasting impact on communities outside of the jail, primarily Black communities. While Black people only make up 13.4% of the population of Allegheny County, they constitute a striking 61% of those held at [Allegheny County Jail].”

The plaintiffs hope the actions of the Allegheny County Jail will be declared unconstitutional and enjoined. Additionally, the group seeks an order compelling the jail to provide plaintiffs the “necessary and adequate mental health care.” The lawsuit seeks certification as a class action on behalf of “all others similarly situated.”