Federal prison officials have begun transferring mentally ill inmates from the Supermax prison in Florence, Co., to a prison in Atlanta after a lawsuit that accuses guards of ignoring severe symptoms, reports the Denver Post. Supermax, dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” houses some of the U.S. government’s most dangerous inmates including drug kingpins, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and many terrorists.
As many as half of the 425 inmates at Supermax are severely mentally ill, said attorney Edwin Aro, who has interviewed 140 inmates there. “It’s the worst horror show I’ve ever seen,” said Aro, who is representing a group of inmates. “If you put someone who is already gravely ill in solitary confinement, it wrecks them. It turns them into animals.” U.S. Bureau of Prisons staff already has sent about eight severely mentally ill patients to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta among other measures to address problems identified in the lawsuit filed by seven mentally ill prisoners, Aro said. He will seek class-action status to represent the interests of as many as 200 inmates suffering severe symptoms of mental illness, including a prisoner who has mutilated himself 100 times.