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Landmark Settlement Reached in EFE Class Action for Prisoners with Mental Illness

Landmark Settlement Reached in EFE Class Action for Prisoners with Mental Illness

EFE and its co-counsel have negotiated a landmark settlement on behalf of mentally ill prisoners in our class action against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).  Our co-counsel partners are Uptown People’s Law Center and the law firms of Dentons and Mayer Brown.  Highlights of the settlement include:

  • For the first time ever, Illinois will provide both long-term and acute care for prisoners who are so seriously mentally ill that they require hospitalization. Previously, they were either relegated to solitary confinement, or left for months in “crisis cells,” where they were stripped of all possessions, left totally isolated from other prisoners, and watched 24 hours a day to ensure they do not commit suicide.
  • More than 300 new clinical staff will be hired to treat prisoners with serious mental illnesses, along with over 400 new security staff to work at the new residential treatment units. This will allow IDOC to provide group therapy and one-on-one therapy for prisoners, which was virtually unheard of previously.
  • The IDOC will construct four residential treatment units (at Logan, Pontiac, and Dixon Correctional Centers, and the now-closed Illinois Youth Center in Joliet). This will allow the release of many people currently held in long-term solitary confinement into more appropriate, treatment-oriented housing.
  • IDOC will review the mental health of all prisoners with more than 60 days left in solitary, to determine if they should be given early release. IDOC will also release from solitary all prisoners with serious mental illnesses who are confined there for minor, non-violent offenses, and in the future will consider mental health before sentencing someone to segregation.
  • Prisoners with mental illnesses who are in solitary confinement for over 60 days will have their out-of-cell time increased from less than an hour a day to 20 hours a week.
  • Construction costs for the new facilities are estimated to be $40 million and the new personnel costs are expected to be approximately $40 million annually. This spending will be a part of the appropriations process.

“Just because a people with mental illness are in prison doesn’t mean they lose their rights under the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Barry Taylor, Vice President for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation at Equip for Equality. “This agreement will ensure that people with serious mental illness will be given critical treatment they are entitled to under the law.”

For more information about this case and the agreement, contact Barry Taylor at 312-895-7317 or barryt@equipforequality.org

Rasho Settlement Agreement 5/23/16 (PDF)

Pantagraph Article:  State, inmates reach sweeping deal on mental health care 12/23/15

 

Last updated: August 13, 2018

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