A U.S. District Court Judge recently ordered that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) should provide sufficient staff and treatment to 12,000 mentally ill inmates who are being treated with “deliberate indifference.” According to the ruling, given by Judge Michael Mihm on May 22, 2018, mentally ill individuals at IDOC are left at the mercy of the Department and have not been provided the minimal level of healthcare. In response to this, on May 28, 2018, Monday, the IDOC said it will appeal against the ruling by arguing that it has made a significant improvement in complying with a two-year-old lawsuit settlement. According to IDOC spokesperson Lindsey Hess, the court-appointed monitor also found significant improvements in the facility’s mental health care delivery system, such as improved timelines of mental health and suicide screenings, increased time out of cells as well as reduced segregation time.
According to judge Mihm, the record presented will not be granted the service unless a preliminary injunction was issued by the Court. As per the federal judge’s order, there was a need to provide these patients of mental illnesses with “constitutionally minimum level of health care.” The Court reached its ruling after last year’s compliance found the Department of Correction’s mental health care to be “unacceptably insufficient and dangerous.”
However, spokesperson Hess does not agree with the ruling. According to her, the facility has ensured that the mentally ill receive adequate treatment that is necessary for their well-being, rehab and re-entry into society as productive individuals by continually making adjustments in its daily operations. Hess also defended the facility’s stand by saying that the facility also complied with the settlement by opening a residential treatment unit at the Dixon prison and a residential treatment facility for inmates with serious mental illnesses in Joliet. As per Hess, the facility will consult the state attorney general to decide on the next step of action.
Mass incarceration of people with mental issues not a solution
Mental illness affects every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system with the effect that many people with mental illness cycle back and forth between prisons and community. As per statistics, individuals with mental illness are more likely to encounter police than get medical assistance. Designed as places to hold law-breakers, prisons have been housing an increasing number of individuals with mental problems over the years. Though a vast majority of the incarcerated individuals are not violent criminals, many of them do not receive adequate treatment during their jail term and fail to have access to the necessary health care benefits once they are released. In the absence of adequate mental health treatment in jails, their mental conditions often worsen. Many such individuals wind up in emergency rooms and are prone to get arrested again.
Given the long-term incarceration and isolation methods are no answers to dealing with mental illness of the inmates as well as the astronomical economic and human costs associated with keeping the mentally ill in jails, there is a need to address mental health issues in prisons and develop evidence-based treatment programs to manage the inmates’ mental health treatment needs.
Comprehensive care for mental health needs
Sovereign Health’s Court Services functions as a legal support system for its patients. To ensure that all our clients get adequate treatment for their behavioral health issues, our representatives serve as a mediator between the judge and the district attorney.
Considered to be among the leading behavioral and addiction treatment facility in the U.S., Sovereign Health provides adolescents and adults different levels of care for their mental health and/or addictive disorders. If you or a loved one requires counseling or legal representation, call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 439-7698 to speak with our experts and get a representation.