Hennepin County, Mn., agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit by a mentally ill inmate who stabbed himself in both eyes last year after being held in the county jail for 40 days without proper psychiatric care, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The settlement is believed to be the largest for medical neglect of an inmate in a Minnesota jail or prison.
Michael Schuler, who had a long history of mental illness and self-inflicted wounds, was arrested last year for missing a court date and used a pencil to stab himself in his cell two months later. Since then, his case has been cited by criminal justice and mental health authorities as an example of the way Minnesota has criminalized mental illness, with hundreds of people winding up in county jails for even basic misdemeanors rather than being sent into residential psychiatric care. On a typical day, the Hennepin County jail holds 100 to 200 inmates with serious psychiatric disorders — sometimes one quarter of the overall inmate population, and some languish in jail for months, the Star Tribune reported last month.