Joshua Dunn, an inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility used a razor to injure his arm three years ago in August in order to be sent to the infirmary. The man initially asked to have access to mental health care because he suffered from bipolar disorder.
However, his request was left unanswered, so the man resorted to life-threatening methods to get the attention of the guards. According to Dunn’s declaration, which is part of the lawsuit filed against the Alabama Department of Corrections and MHM Services, he decided to slash his arm again because no one wanted to help him.
Based on the latest reports, the non-jury trial is scheduled on Monday, and it might last for roughly two months. Depending on the outcome, 25,000 inmates living in Alabama prisons, and others throughout the United States suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other conditions will have access to proper mental health care.
On the other hand, the officials from the Treatment Advocacy Center claim that more inmates receive treatment in the United States jails and prisons than those in psychiatric hospitals. According to the statistics, more prisoners started receiving proper treatment in Alabama prisons too.
Although this fact is encouraging, the lawsuit suggests that the total number of patients included in the caseload is way below the rates of mental disorders in the Alabama prisons. Despite the fact that the attorneys denied the allegations, the lawsuit stated that the DOC didn’t provide enough psychiatrists, nurses, and psychologists in Alabama.
Instead, it funded mental health staff which was unlicensed to provide proper care. In other words, the prisoners receive drugs but not counseling. According to attorney Lisa Borden from Baker Donelson, this lawsuit is not about Dunn, but about the real situation in the Alabama prisons.
She says the current prison system must provide proper mental health care for every inmate. Therefore, Alabama needs mental health specialists to address this issue. Dunn said that after cutting himself, he was assigned to segregation by prison officials.
During the time spent there, the man slashed his arm 4 more times. Also, he was on suicide watch for around two weeks although no mental health care professional verified his condition. The man confessed that when he cut himself for the first time, the correctional officers waited over three hours until they decided to remove him from his cell.
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