Lawsuit Alleges Cruelty Toward Mentally Ill Inmates at CO ‘Supermax’


A class-action lawsuit filed this week against the federal Bureau of Prisons charges deliberate indifference and outright cruelty toward mentally ill inmates at ADX-Florence, the “Supermax” federal prison in Florence, Col., reports The Atlantic. The suit alleges that the federal government “turns a blind eye to the needs of the mentally ill at ADX and to deplorable conditions of confinement that are injurious, callous and inhumane to those prisoners. No civilized society treats its mentally disabled citizens with a comparable level of deliberate indifference to their plight.”

The Atlantic cites Jack Powers, a mentally ill inmate who has mutilated himself and attempted suicide while incarcerated at Supermax. Bureau of Prison policies prohibit officials from assigning mentally ill inmates to Supermax. And the Eighth Amendment requires prison staff everywhere to adequately diagnose and treat mentally ill prisoners, including those prisoners, like Powers, who evidently become mentally ill while in prison. The magazine says, “No law or policy, at any level, would appear to sanction or condone the conduct of those prison officials accountable for the lack of response to Powers’ decline.”

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