Mental Health Care in Prison
The ACLU National Prison Project works to ensure that prisoners receive adequate mental health care, and to end conditions of confinement that can exacerbate existing diseases or have negative psychological effects on even prisoners without mental illness.
Stop Solitary - The Dangerous Overuse of Solitary Confinement in the United States: Over the last two decades corrections systems have increasingly relied on solitary confinement as a prison management tool – even building entire institutions called “supermax prisons” where prisoners are held in conditions of extreme isolation, sometimes for years or decades. But solitary confinement jeopardizes our public safety, is fundamentally inhumane and wastes taxpayer dollars. We must insist on humane and more cost-effective methods of punishment and prison management.
Know Your Rights: Medical, Dental and Mental Health Care (2012 resource): Prison officials are obligated under the Eighth Amendment to provide prisoners with adequate medical care. This principle applies regardless of whether the medical care is provided by governmental employees or by private medical staff under contract with the government.
Human Rights at Home: Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails (2009 PDF): This statement addresses the problem of deplorable treatment of several populations of mentally ill prisoners including women, juveniles, and immigration detainees. This statement also details the successful reforms instituted at Unit 32 at Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman) – a model for all state and federal prisons that has produced better outcomes in terms of mental health, prison discipline, and ability to integrate back into society upon release. The ACLU urges Congress to fund Parchman-like models on the federal level and to create incentives for states to adopt Parchman-like models.