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Motion Faults State for Prison Mental Health Standards

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Advocates are aiming to hold the state of Illinois in contempt for failure to comply with federal court order to shore up facilities and improve standards of treatment for prison inmates with mental illness. They filed a motion US District Court asking Judge Micheal Mihm to compel the state’s private-sector contractor for prison system healthcare to hire more staff to fulfill the conditions of a four-year-old settlement reached in a class action affecting 12,000 prisoners. While strides have been made, the motion filed with the Southern District of Illinois claims that Illinois Department of Corrections continues to violate their Constitutional rights.

Entered in Peoria, the motion contends that IDOC needs to hire more than 90 workers to fill a 152,000-hour gap in care. They say Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Sources has yet to meet terms of an injunction issued 18 months ago. That number is more than the court-ordered increase of 75 workers but still below the 142 that the IDOC says are necessary to meet its own staffing plan. High turnover rates are to blame for the failure to reach federal minimums, according to the motion, which also notes that medication mismanagement is rife at state facilities. Illinois spends comparatively little on caring for mentally ill prisoners.