Alabama prisons to answer why they have not met deadlines to improve staffing and issues for the lawsuit filed on behalf of mentally ill inmates.
Myron Thompson, a U.S District Judge, issued an order against the Alabama DOC. The judge acted on a request made by inmates’ lawyers who filed a lawsuit against the DOC.
The order is to explain why the DOC should not be sued for disobeying a previous court order. They failed to meet the deadlines to increase the mental health staff in its state prisons.
When Was the Order Issued? When Is the Hearing to Take Place?
Judge Thompson issued the order on September 14th. He scheduled the hearing to start on Tuesday. The hearing will take place at the courthouse located in Montgomery.
What Case Will Be Heard at the Hearing?
The latest update on the lawsuit filed for mentally ill prisoners will be heard during the hearing. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was filed on behalf of the inmates.
Mental Health Care State in Alabama Prisons
Judge Thompson ruled the state of health care in the prisons was terrible. It is a violation of the eighth amendment. It prohibits cruel and unusual punishment to the mentally ill inmates. The ruling was made in June 2017.
He continued, saying there is an extreme shortage of correctional officers and mental health experts for the facilities. These staff members are important and necessary in any prison. The DOC needs to ensure there is enough personnel with these skills available to inmates.
Judge Thompson gave another order. He set deadlines to add additionally needed mental health staff. The deadlines set were for May, June, and July.
What Are the Reasons the Deadlines Were Not Met
State lawyers argued, in a response issued on August 1st, a new health care contractor had been hired for the prisons. The contractor is Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
The contractor put in a lot of effort towards meeting the goals. Some progress has been made. They expect the contractor to meet the staffing goals ordered by February 2019.
The Funding Necessary To Hire Adequate Staff Was Given
Legislature passed gave funds to the prison system for $80 million. This budget is for more than two years. The funding is necessary to deal with the issues of understaffing and proper mental health care for inmates.