The Denver Post
Nearly 90 Colorado prisoners with serious mental illness were locked in solitary confinement this year — and many had been there for at least four years — despite legal and expert recommendations that prisons stop "warehousing" the mentally ill in 23-hour-a-day isolation.
An 18-month study by the ACLU of Colorado also found the proportion of mentally ill prisoners held in solitary confinement increased from 2011 to 2012, even as the state prison system decreased the overall number of inmates in solitary.
Prisoners with moderate to severe mental illness now make up the majority of those in solitary, also called "administrative segregation," according to the report, obtained by The Denver Post and to be released Tuesday. The 87 prisoners with serious mental illness in solitary have diseases including schizophrenia and severe depression.
There were 684 prisoners in administrative segregation last year, or 3.9 percent of the inmate population, according to the corrections department.
One reason so many mentally ill inmates are in solitary is that the Colorado prison system has a severe shortage of psychiatrists, falling well short of national recommendations, according to the report.
"It is clear that one of the Colorado Department of Corrections' methods of managing the scores of mentally ill prisoners under its charge is to confine them in administrative segregation," says the report, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind."
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, July 23, 2013
The Denver Post