Nature of Claims: These two actions, initially filed by Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York and joined by PRP as they approached trial or settlement (Anderson) and after settlement (Eng), challenged inadequate mental health treatment for prisoners in the segregated isolated confinement disciplinary housing called Special Housing Units (“SHU”) at Auburn and Green Haven Correctional Facilities (Anderson) and at Attica Correctional Facility (Eng). PRP joined as co-counsel in both cases in 1998. Both cases were certified as class actions on behalf of the prisoners in those SHUs. Eng and Anderson sought injunctions requiring adequate mental health care for SHU prisoners or and alternate housing for prisoners for whom isolated confinement was psychiatrically contraindicated. Anderson also sought changes in disciplinary procedures to screen out persons whose offenses result from mental illness or for whom isolated confinement was contraindicated.
Current status: The settlement in Eng resulted in New York’s first SHU treatment program, the Special Treatment Program (“STP”). Prisoners with serious mental illness housed in the Attica SHU were provided with two hours out of cell treatment through the new program. The settlement in Anderson provided for extensive monitoring of disciplinary hearings which resulted in SHU placement at Auburn and Green Haven Correctional Facilities; amendments to the state-wide regulation concerning the manner in which mental health will be considered during prison disciplinary hearings; and a new state-wide regulation created Case Management Committees consisting of security and mental health staff at all prisons the Office of Mental Health had designated for the most seriously ill prisoners. Monitoring pursuant to both settlements is completed. The mental health claim in Anderson was dismissed, since it was incorporated into the claims in the recently settled Disability Advocates, Inc. v. New York State Office of Mental Health (see above).
Persons Affected: All prisoners with serious mental illness benefit from the regulations that resulted from the Anderson litigation. After Eng, another STP was started at Five Points Correctional Facility and the further expansion of mental health treatment housing programs has continued pursuant to the Disability Advocates, Inc. v. New York State Office of Mental Health.
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