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Mental health care at David Wade Correctional Center ruled unconstitutional

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A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the David Wade Correctional Center, a state prison in Homer, Louisiana, violated prisoners’ constitutional rights by housing them in inhumane conditions and failing to provide them with adequate mental health care. .

In a 165-page ruling, Louisiana Western District Judge Elizabeth Foote found that screening and evaluating inmates for mental illness was not adequate, not treating them beyond the supply of drugs and that they did not have an adequate suicide prevention program, among other problems. .

“This widespread and cruel disregard for the mental health care and treatment of inmates at DWCC by mental health professionals, combined with the glaring systemic deficiencies…rises to the level of a constitutional violation,” Foote wrote. “As it stands, the DWCC is violating the Eighth Amendment rights of its prisoners, many of whom suffer from mental illness, by housing them in inhumane conditions during prolonged confinement and by failing to provide these inmates with proper medical care. adequate mental health.”

The decision comes after a four-week trial held earlier this year. Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit said mentally ill prisoners housed at David Wade — which has been used as a punishment camp in other state prisons — were frequently placed in “confinement” for minor violations of prison rules. prison and held in filthy cells. up to 23 hours a day. During this time, they were abused by guards and had no access to counseling or other mental health services.

“The Court finds that the conditions…. have the mutually binding effect of depriving individuals of basic mental health needs and exposing them to mental torture,” Foote wrote.

She also ruled that the prison violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

A “remedial phase” of the trial — which will determine whether or not the prison continues to violate the constitutional rights of prisoners and what steps should be taken to remedy those violations — is scheduled for trial on January 17, 2023. This trial must last fourteen days.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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