This was a Section 1983 civil rights class action challenging the mental health care policies and practices of the defendant officials of the Connecticut Department of Correction at the Bridgeport Community Correctional Center. The case was filed February 24, 1993 by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the ACLU National Prison Project on behalf of plaintiff inmates. Plaintiffs were also represented by private counsel (Jonathan Levine of the firm Silver, Golub & Teitell). The docket begins with the complaint filed on February 24, 1993 and indicates that the motion to certify the class action was filed the same day.
The class was composed of all inmates who were, or would be subject to defendants' care and custody at Bridgeport Community Correctional Center and who required, or would require, mental health services resulting from their mental illness. Plaintiffs further sought to represent a subclass composed of all inmates who were, or would be subject to defendants' care and custody and Bridgeport Community Correctional center and who required, or would require, mental health services resulting from their mental illnesses, whose primary language was Spanish and who could read, write, and speak very little, if any, English.
Plaintiffs complained that defendants failed to transfer inmates in need of mental health care at an inpatient mental health facility, and provided inadequate staff training concerning mental health needs of inmates, inadequate suicide prevention, and generally inadequate mental health diagnosis and care.
A settlement agreement was entered in 1995, along with a Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal without Prejudice. Defendants agreed to increase and maintain weekend staffing in the mental health unit, increase the number of on-site psychiatrist hours, adopt a Procedure Manual for the Mental Health Unit and implement it after appropriate training, conduct quarterly reviews of mental health records, and ensure that transactions for inmates in need of mental health care who did not speak English would be provided by bilingual medical or mental health staff. Although the defendants retained the option to modify the measures set forth, the plaintiffs were able to withdraw from the Agreement of Settlement and litigate the claims if they believed the changes rose to the level of a constitutional or statutory violation. No sanctions were imposed on defendants for failure to comply with the Agreement. The sole remedy for failure to comply was through termination of the Agreement and proceeding with an action in court. The agreement specified that the Court would permit the plaintiffs to reopen the case without filing a new action for the purpose of enforcement.
Notice was provided to all inmates of the proposed settlement of the class action in April 1995. Robert Ward, the Minority Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives, sent a letter to the judge objecting to the proposal because of its requirements to fill currently vacant positions and to create new positions, which would have an impact on the financial situation of the state. He requested that the judge withhold accepting the settlement until the General Assembly had the opportunity to review it, and to consider and adopt a budget for that fiscal year. An inmate at the Bridgeport Correctional Center also sent two letters to the judge objecting to the proposed Agreement of Settlement. His main objections were that the proposed Agreement had not been made available to any inmate at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, and even if it had been available, most inmates would not have been able to read it because there was not sufficient staff available to monitor the readings. The first letter stated that once the proposed Agreement of Settlement was made available, he would finalize his objections. The second letter contained further complaints about the lack of availability of the Agreement to inmates and again requested an opportunity to present oral testimony on the lack of sanctions for non-compliance and the Department of Correction's history of non-compliance in Doe v. Meachum.
According to the docket, on May 22, 1995, the Court approved the Settlement Agreement, and the case was closed. Theresa Spaulding - 05/20/2005