Lawsuit Says Federal Inmates Get Puzzles, Not Counseling

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At the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., prisoners with serious mental illness are handed crossword and sudoku puzzles instead of counseling, according to a lawsuit that says prisoners at one of the most violent federal prisons are denied routine mental health care, NPR reports. The lawsuit also alleges that prisoners at Lewisburg are cut off from the medications they were given at other prisons and housed in small cells, where they often spend up to 24 hours a day with other prisoners, who also often have serious mental illnesses.

The case contends that the meager mental health treatment violates the U.S. Constitution’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment. It also says the inadequate treatment is in violation of the Bureau of Prisons’ own rules, which say men with serious mental illness should, in most cases, be removed from the Special Management Unit for violent prisoners. A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons declined comment. Last year, an investigation by NPR and the Marshall Project found high rates of violence at Lewisburg, where inmate-on-inmate assaults are six times more common than at all federal prisons. The investigation linked the heightened violence to the lack of mental health care, the practice of double-cell solitary confinement — putting two men in one small cell — and the frequent use of restraints.

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