Inmates with severe mental illnesses subject to isolation, restraint, brutality, DRO investigation shows

The Oregonian, April 8, 2015

d-block-oregon-state-penitentiaryjpg-dad534a4e3e2e748Prisoners in the Oregon State Penitentiary unit reserved for inmates with the most severe mental illnesses spend months, sometimes years in small cells with no natural light or outdoor access and rarely get to speak with others, according to an investigation by Disability Rights Oregon.

Most are in their cells for 23 hours a day and few regularly shower or have a chance for recreation even though both are required under state Department of Corrections policies, the federally funded advocacy group found.

The investigation began last spring and relied on interviews with 19 inmates, an examination of 4,500 pages of medical, mental health and disciplinary records and video footage from the prison’s Behavioral Health Unit. One video revealed an inmate being stunned with a Taser gun when he failed to wake up or get up to be placed in restraints for his required medication, according to the group.

Attorneys from the organization presented some of their findings to state lawmakers Tuesday, while urging all legislators to support SB 739 to change the conditions. …Continue reading at