March 01, 2007

Lawsuit Demands Care for Imprisoned Veterans with Mental Illnesses

Hundreds of military veterans with mental illnesses in Colorado are in prison due to untreated mental illnesses or currently on parole and are not being provided treatment. They are then further punished for violations of parole stemming from behavior related to their untreated mental illnesses (such as walking away from a homeless shelter).

According to the Rocky Mountains News, a federal lawsuit is being rallied on behalf of these Colorado veterans. Originally filed on behalf of one veteran with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, a class-action status is now being sought in order to benefit other veterans receiving Veterans Affairs care for their service-connected disabilities currently caught up in this catch-22 of incarceration, lack of care, and further punishment.

It alleges cruel and unusual punishment and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit says that the Colorado Department of Corrections and Denver Community Corrections, by not providing treatment, are "fostering an environment wherein mentally ill offenders will fail" and be returned to prison.

It is estimated that 19% of Colorado inmates are suffering from a mental illness.

Read the full article: Lawsuit demands care for mentally ill incarcerated veterans: Case alleges cruel, unusual punishment

Related Reading:
Prisons - The New Asylums (News Report)
As Number of Prison Inmates Soar, Experts Stress Effective Treatment for Mental illness
New Book: Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness
PBS TV Special on Mentally Ill in Jail
Prisons Overloaded w/Mentally Ill


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