Disability Rights Montana receives on going correspondence from prisoners across the state who experience mental illness while incarcerated. We recognizes the magnitude of problems that occur with within our State wide penal system. However, when DRM is unable to assist directly due to limited funding and resources, we can provide for you the following resources with the hopes that your concerns will be addressed properly and in a timely manner. Call us at 1-800-245-4743 or send a letter to 1022 Chestnut St. Helena, Montana 59601.  Click here to see our priorities, or here to request our services.

Links to other Services

Mental Health Ombudsman: The Ombudsman represents the interests of Montanans seeking access to public mental health services Toll Free Telephone: 888-444-9669

Citizen’s Advocate: The Montana Citizens’ Advocate is directly charged by the Governor with assisting Montanans in their interactions with state executive branch agencies. Folks often need a little help navigating the rules, requirements, statutes or roles of state government. The Citizens’ Advocate, true to its name, advocates on behalf of Montanans and offers direction and assistance within state government.
Phone: (406) 444-3468

Montana Mental Disabilities Board of Visitors
Mental Health – 406-444-5278
Intellectual Disabilities – 406-444-3955
Toll Free: 800-332-2272
FAX: 406-444-3543

NAMI Montana: NAMI Montana  supports, educates, and advocates for Montanans with severe mental illnesses and their families.  NAMI Montana has has over 400 members and growing (join now).  Our affiliates are located in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Livingston, Lewistown, and Missoula.
Phone: (406) 443-7871.

Contact the OIG Hotline Concerning Violation of Civil Rights or Civil Liberties by a DOJ Employee
Mailing Address:
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General
Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
1425 New York Avenue, NW Suite 7100
Washington, DC 20530
Phone: (800) 869-4499*
Fax: (202) 616-9898

Contact the OIG Hotline Concerning DOJ Employees or Programs
Mailing Address:
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Division
1425 New York Avenue, NW
Suite 7100
Washington, DC 20530
Phone: (800) 869-4499*
Fax: (202) 616-9881

Montana State Prison – MSP Switchboard: (406) 846-1320, ext. 0
400 Conley Lake Road
Deer Lodge, MT 59722

Montana Women’s Prison
701 South 27th Street
Billings MT 59101
Phone: (406) 247-5100
Fax: (406) 247-5161

Montana Department of Corrections: Locations and Capacities of Correctional Programs and Facilities.

Office of the State Public Defender – Client complaint formIf you wish to make a complaint against your public defender, please complete this form and submit it to the regional deputy public defender in your area.

MSP Inmate Grievance Program

Montana State Bar Association: Lawyer referral

Montana Legal Services Association

Your Right to Vote!

These states strip voting rights from people convicted of felonies while they’re serving out their terms but restore them automatically once they are out of prison:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island

Self-Advocacy Resources

Your Right to Accommodation

In human rights terms, accommodation is the word used to describe the duties of an employer, service provider or landlord to give equal access to people who are protected by the ADA. To be protected, you must be a qualified individual with a disability. This means that you must have a disability as defined by the ADA. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, thinking, walking, breathing, or performing manual tasks.

The duty to accommodate recognizes that people have different needs and require different solutions to gain equal access to services, housing and employment. To accommodate someone means to remove the barriers which prevent people from gaining access to jobs, housing, and the use of goods, services and facilities (e.g. public transit or schools).

If you are a person who has ADA-protected rights, this means that an employer, service provider or landlord has a positive duty to change the way they provide workspace, services, or housing (e.g. by making physical changes or by changing their practices or policies) to make it easier or possible for you to participate in the workplace, participate in the service or facility or access housing.

What needs can be accommodated?
The duty to accommodate can arise in different situations as a result of a person’s disability, age, religion, marital status, immigration status, ethnic or racial identity or family obligations or other factors listed in the ADA.

Most commonly, the duty to accommodate arises in the employment context where an employee suffers a disability such as an injury, illness or addiction that prevents him or her from continuing to do his job in the same manner as before. Even though the employee is no longer able to perform in the same way, the employer may not fire him or her without first providing reasonable opportunities for rehabilitation or alternative work.

Is accommodation the same for everyone?
No. Accommodation will be different for each person, even if they have the same disability. For example, two employees might have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The employer can’t say, “Oh, when Mary got MS all she needed was an extra 15 minute break every day, so John’s going to get the same thing.” The nature of the accommodation required will vary according to your unique needs and these needs must be considered, assessed, and accommodated individually.

What are some examples of the duty to accommodate?
The kind of accommodation that is required will depend on the circumstances of the particular situation. Some examples of accommodation could include:

  • Building a wheelchair access ramp
  • Flexibility in work hours or break times
  • Providing sign language interpreters for persons who are deaf so they can participate in meetings
  • Job restructuring, retraining or assignment to an alternative position
  • Allowing an employee to wear a hijab even though the employer wants all employees to wear the same corporate attire
  • Allowing a pregnant employee to attend doctor appointments
  • Allowing an employee to not work on certain holidays

How do I get the accommodation I need?
There are a number of steps you should take in order to make sure that your need for accommodation is dealt with properly. You should:

  • Ask for the accommodation
  • Explain why you need it (try to do this in writing)
  • Provide information that is directly relevant to your needs, restrictions or limitations (this can include medical information, but only the information that is directly related to your request for accommodation)
  • Participate in discussions about possible accommodation solutions
  • Co-operate with any experts whose assistance is required
  • Try different forms of accommodation even if it is not the perfect accommodation
  • If you are an employee in a union, it would be a good idea to contact your union representative. Your union will often have good advice about your employer’s procedures for getting accommodation.

What should the employer, landlord or service provider do after I make my request for accommodation?
Once you make your request for accommodation, the employer, service provider or landlord should:

  • Accept the accommodation request in good faith, unless there are legitimate reasons for acting otherwise
  • Understand someone might not use the word “accommodation” when they are looking to be served in a way that meets their needs
  • Obtain expert opinion or advice where needed
  • Take an active role in exploring a range of options
  • Keep a record of the accommodation request and action taken
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Limit their requests for information (e.g. medical reports) to those directly related to your needs, limitations or restrictions
  • Grant accommodation requests in a timely manner
  • Pay for the cost of the required medical information or documentation
  • If the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” (see definition below) such as extreme financial costs, explain this clearly and be prepared to demonstrate why they cannot provide the accommodation

How far does the duty to accommodate go?
The duty to accommodate is not unlimited. The limit to the duty to accommodate is called “undue hardship.” An employer, landlord or service provider is not required to accommodate a person’s needs beyond the point at which the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” to the business or operation.