On August 6, 2003, the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA) filed a §1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut against the Connecticut Department of Corrections and two prisons it operated. Plaintiffs, who were represented by ...
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On August 6, 2003, the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA) filed a §1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut against the Connecticut Department of Corrections and two prisons it operated. Plaintiffs, who were represented by attorneys for the local ACLU and ACLU's National Prison Project, alleged that prisoners and detainees with mental illness who were confined at CDC's Northern Correctional Institution (CDC's maximum security prison which housed death row inmates) and Garner Correctional Institution were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Because the plaintiffs were not prisoners, the limitations on settlement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act did not apply.)
Soon after the filing of the lawsuit, the parties entered into settlement negotiations and participated in many court ordered settlement conferences. A tentative settlement agreement was reached in March, 2004. Approval of the proposed agreement was debated by the Connecticut Legislature and a public hearing was held by the joint Judicial Committee of the Connecticut State Senate and House. The settlement was ratified and the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss and approve the settlement with the District Court on September 22, 2005. The District Court (Judge Robert N. Chatigny) entered an order of dismissal and approved and adopted the terms of the Settlement Agreement on September 26, 2005. The District Court retained jurisdiction over the matter to enforce compliance with the Settlement Agreement.
The Agreement provided that services for seriously mentally ill inmates would be consolidated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, which would be designed as the mental health institution for the CDC. In order to initially determine which inmates would be transferred to Garner, an evaluation of the entire prison population at Northern would be conducted by the UConn Health Center Psychiatric staff. The Agreement also called for increased staffing and changes to mental health evaluation and services. All prisoners and detainees held in the most restrictive form of confinement at NCI were assessed by psychiatric experts to determine whether their placement was appropriate. Individuals with serious mental illness or who were at risk of developing serious mental illness were transferred to a facility with intensive psychiatric services.
Compliance with the Agreement was to be monitored for a period of three years. Each party was to designate a mental health consultant and a confinement consultant to monitor and evaluate compliance. The parties agreed to submit the issue of whether the four monitoring consultants would be granted access to the mental health records of the prisoners. As of the date of this summary, the District Court had not yet resolved that issue.Dan Dalton - 01/31/2007