Disability Rights Montana

 

Huffington Post interview regarding lawsuit filed in Montana over prison conditions

Lack of treatment, solitary confinement and abusive “behavior modification plans” exacerbate mental illness, threaten health and safety of prisoners, prison staff and Montana Communities.

On February 28, 2014, the ACLU of Montana, on behalf of its client Disability Rights Montana, challenged the treatment of prisoners with mental illness at Montana State Prison and the Montana State Hospital. A pattern at Montana State Prison of withholding medication, misdiagnosing prisoners with a long history of mental illness, and punishing them for behavior caused by their mental illness. They are subjected to solitary confinement and “behavior modification plans” that deprive them of clothing, working toilets, bedding and proper food. This serves only to exacerbate their illness and cause needless suffering.

In addition, prisoners sentenced “guilty but mentally ill,” and sent to the Montana State Hospital for treatment are routinely transferred to Montana State Prison because Montana State Hospital staff does not want to treat problem patients or they need beds for other patients. These very ill patients have no real opportunity to challenge these transfers from a hospital setting to the prison where mental health care is virtually nonexistent and they are punished for their mental illness.
On Friday, March 31, 2014, the ACLU of Montana, on behalf of its client Disability Rights Montana, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, Butte Division. 
We filed a lawsuit but would prefer to resolve the issue in a cooperative manner. These are serious constitutional issues, so we are encouraged by the fact that officials at the Department of Corrections have shown a willingness to work with us on solutions. We are in active negotiations with them to make sure that prisoners with mental illness are not subjected to conditions that exacerbate their illness and that they are given the treatment they need to manage their condition and to succeed in prison and the community upon release.
Click on the following links for more information:

Click here to download the Media Release.
Click here to download the letter to DPHHS and DOC.
Click here to download response from Mike Batista, Director, Montana DOC.
Click here to download the Complaint. 


PAIMI Advisory Council meeting scheduled for April 24, 2014

The PAIMI Advisory Council will hold its quarterly meeting on Thursday, April 24, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., at the Disability Rights Montana office at 1022 Chestnut Street in Helena. The public is welcome. If you plan to attend the meeting and need an accommodation, please call Disability Rights Montana prior to the meeting. 


Disability Rights Montana Board of Directors meeting scheduled for April 25, 2014

The Disability Rights Montana Board of Directors will hold its quarterly meeting on Friday, April 25, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Disability Rights Montana office at 1022 Chestnut Street in Helena. The public is welcome. If you plan to attend the meeting and need an accommodation, please call Disability Rights Montana prior to the meeting.


Montana Supreme Court finds for DRM client and reverses appointment of a virtual stranger to be the surrogate parent of a student with a disability.

In this case decided on March 18, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court and required that a student's foster father be appointed as his surrogate parent for IDEA proceedings, replacing a virtual stranger who had been appointed to this position at the request of the Butte School District.  Once appointed, this unrelated individual hastily agreed to a long-disputed IEP. Neither the student's foster father nor his DRM attorney were even notified of the proceeding to appoint the surrogate. The student appealed this decision and the Montana Supreme Court found in his favor and remanded the matter to the district court to remove the current surrogate and appoint the student's foster father instead.

Click here to read the Supreme Court Decision.