Prison Mental Heath Case
Ending 'horrific' care for mentally ill inmates
The lead plaintiff in Bradley v. Haley, Tommy Bradley, spent most of his adult life medicated and isolated in a cell for 22 hours a day. Instead of receiving therapeutic treatment and counseling for his paranoid schizophrenia, Bradley and other seriously mentally ill prison inmates in Alabama were simply warehoused in segregation cells and left in the care of inadequately trained staff.
About ten percent of Alabama's inmates are mentally ill; experts hired by the Center described conditions for the mentally ill prisoners as "horrific" and "primitive."
Things began to change after 2001 when the Center settled eight years of litigation with an agreement that ensures proper mental health treatment, more out-of cell time, and therapeutic activities for the inmates.
The agreement requires:
- An increase in staffing from the statewide total of twenty-five mental health professionals to a statewide total of ninety-seven, a 300% increase;
- The opening of a new 80-bed "residential treatment unit" for mentally ill inmates;
- Services that include psychiatric treatment, therapeutic activities, educational and work opportunities; and
- increased out-of-cell time.
Other critical components include adequate mental health training for correctional officers and the renovation of several prisons to create mental health treatment areas.