Lawsuit claims PA inmates with mental illness languishing in isolation

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 11, 2013 9:41 AM

(Philadelphia) -- A class-action lawsuit filed Monday says hundreds of mentally-ill inmates in Pennsylvania are languishing for months and even years in isolated prison cells.

The federal lawsuit accuses state prison officials of punishing the mentally ill for psychotic behavior instead of providing needed care. Lawyers say that only makes their conditions worse.

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, which filed the suit, calls prison officials "indifferent" to the problem.

Similar suits have been filed across the country in recent years. 

Spokeswoman Sue McNaughton says the Department of Corrections has no immediate comment.

The lawsuit says one-third of the 2,400 inmates kept in solitary confinement or restricted custody in Pennsylvania each year has serious mental-health problems.

Advocates say a few have been held in solitary for more than a decade.

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