- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A doctor testified in federal court that Illinois is lagging behind in improving conditions for hundreds of mentally ill inmates.

Dr. Raymond F. Patterson is in charge of tracking the state’s compliance with a May 2013 order that resulted from a lawsuit filed by several mentally ill inmates, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reported (https://bit.ly/1pwrW7E ).

Among the most troubling issues that he said remain to be addressed is the housing of 600 seriously mentally ill inmates in segregation at several prisons.

Patterson testified Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The Illinois prison system “is substituting segregation for mental health treatment” for some inmates, he said. The state also has not provided documents that guards are referring isolated inmates to mental health care if needed, according to Patterson and the inmates’ lawyers.

“In 17 months, there’s not a single piece of paper to show that one guard did this,” said Harold Hirschman, one of the inmates’ lawyers.

But assistant attorney general Christopher Higgerson defended the state’s progress reviewing the cases. He said all but 30 have been checked.

Higgerson said two inmates saw cuts to isolation that keeps them in their cell for 23 hours a day. A woman at Logan County Correctional Center saw 39 years cut from her segregation term and a man at Pontiac Correction Center had his segregation decreased by 50 years.

The judge questioned why the state has not been able to fill two jobs in the mental health program.

He said the state needs to be more proactive in the application process and ordered it to provide its hiring plan within the next 30 days.


Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

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