Support, Not Solitary, for People Under DOC Mental Health Watch
GLAD Senior Attorney Bennett Klein has submitted testimony in support of S 1283, “An Act to ensure the constitutional rights and human dignity of prisoners on mental health watch.”
S 1283 “would address the severe constitutional violations and disregard for prisoners’ mental health outlined in the Investigation of the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division,” states Klein in his testimony.
The DOJ Report revealed the harrowing consequences of DOC’s policy of placing individuals under mental health watch in solitary confinement (restrictive housing) for long periods. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the United National and inflicts profound and lasting psychological harm.
This bill would take decisive steps to remedy these inhumane practices by:
- limiting the duration of placement in mental health watch for individuals with mental illnesses or at suicide risk
- requiring placement of those with extended mental health watch needs into appropriate psychiatric hospital settings
- requiring a range of regulations and policies intended to ensure that those with mental health needs receive medically sound treatment and protection
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