SUMMARY OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS
The Plaintiffs are a class of approximately 3,000 inmates with serious mental illness imprisoned in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). They, along with Protection and Advocacy for People With Disabilities, a South Carolina nonprofit organization, filed suit in June 2005. The suit alleges that SCDC's mental health system violates Article I § 15 of the South Carolina Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
Plaintiffs' attorney Dan Westbrook of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough argued at closing that the evidence presented at trial proved that SCDC's mental health system was constitutionally deficient in such areas as crisis intervention, solitary confinement, clinical staffing, record keeping, mental health screening, use of force, and medication administration. Westbrook further argued that SCDC knows of the deficiencies and has failed to correct them.
SCDC attorney Andrew Lindemann of Davidson & Lindemann argued that the court should dismiss the case on a variety of legal grounds, including lack of standing and the separation of powers doctrine. Lindemann also argued that SCDC should not be held liable when it cannot control its funding. Lindemann further argued that SCDC has improved mental health services in recent years. Read more...
Contact: Gloria Prevost, executive director, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, 803-782-0639.
Background: Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities on behalf of inmates with serious mental health needs filed a class-action lawsuit in June 2005 alleging inadequate mental health treatment for prisoners held statewide by the S.C. Department of Corrections. The lawsuit does not seek financial damages; rather, it asks the court to require the department to design and maintain a program that provides adequate treatment of inmates with mental illness. South Carolina houses some 23,000 inmates, with more than 3,000 inmates with serious mental illness diagnoses (S.C. Department of Corrections data as of June 30, 2011).
MentalHealth4Inmates.org was created to provide information about the case. All resource files are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.