DENVER—A lawsuit challenging the solitary confinement of a Colorado inmate is winding down.
Closing arguments began Tuesday in 42-year-old Troy Anderson's case in Denver federal court.
Anderson has been held in solitary confinement, known officially as administrative segregation, at the Colorado State Penitentiary since 2000. Law students from the University of Denver Sturm School of Law filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking that prison officials be ordered to provide mental health treatment to Anderson.
Anderson hugged the students representing him after being uncuffed when he walked into the courtroom. Law student Brenden Desmond, who is about to graduate, delivered closing statements before prison officials began making their arguments.
The lawsuit says Anderson has been diagnosed with at least two disorders which can lead to panic attacks, and has shown traits of other disorders that can lead to explosive behavior. It also says prison officials have not properly diagnosed and treated Anderson.
Anderson is in prison for attempted murder and other convictions from 2000.
Prison officials argue they have treated Anderson with at least four different medications since 2004 and he remains a "dangerous individual with a great propensity for violence." At issue in the lawsuit is whether Anderson should be treated with stimulants, which prison officials oppose because of what they say is past methamphetamine use.
An independent analysis by the National Institute of Corrections, the U.S. Department of Justice and two national corrections experts last fall found that the Colorado Department of Corrections relied too much on solitary confinement. Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements in January announced that the agency was transferring 321 inmates back to the general prison population after reviewing about 870 cases.
Clements now requires a review of all instances in which an inmate is held in solitary confinement for more than a year.
Solitary confinement is a tool used by prison officials to maintain prison safety. Inmates are placed there for various reasons that include fighting, organizing gangs or violating other prison rules.
A bill passed last year requires prison officials to provide annual reports to lawmakers about inmates with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities who are placed in solitary confinement, including how long they've been there and the reasons for placement.
Read more: Colorado solitary confinement trial wrapping up - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_20572272/closing-arguments-solitary-confinement-trial#ixzz1uItgxsZS
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012