“People are killing themselves in our prisons because conditions are horrendous,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said at a news conference with the families of people incarcerated. For years lawyers and advocacy groups have been trying to stop the cruel and torturous conditions in Alabama state prisons.
Despite court rulings from 2017 that called the treatment in Alabama’s prisons “horrendously inadequate,” attorneys representing the incarcerated individuals in a lawsuit over mental health care say state officials have done “precious little” to address suicides. Monday, the same judge who made the previous ruling said the state has been “deliberately indifferent” to their failures in evaluating the mental health of people being held in isolation. Placing prisoners in solitary confinement is torture. It is so egregious a punishment that the UN condemned it, and banned the practice completely for people with mental illnesses.
Lawyers have asked a federal judge to block the state from placing people with serious mental illnesses into segregation units or similar settings, where they said the extreme isolation becomes an incubator for worsening mental health symptoms.