U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness

Court Documents Regarding the Mistreatment of Mentally Ill Prisoners

Court documents, including expert reports filed by parties during litigation, provide striking insight into the conditions of confinement and the mental heath services provided mentally ill inmates. Because they are not easily accessible to the public (unlike published court decisions), we provide some below.


Bradley v. Hightower, Report by Kathryn Burns, M.D., & Jane Haddad, Psy.D. (2001)

  • Report prepared by two experts in connection with class action against Alabama Department of Corrections that provides detailed findings leading to conclusion that the department "fails to provide even minimally adequate mental health care for its inmates with serious mental illness."


Brown v. Crosby, Complaint (2003).

  • State prisoners claim excessive use of force (pepper spray) by Florida correctional officers, including unnecessary and wanton use of pepper spray against prisoners with mental illness and asthma.

Osterback v. Moore, Second Amended Complaint (1999).

  • Alleges unconstitutional conditions in the Close Management Units operated by Florida Department of Corrections.

Osterback v. Moore, Defendants' Revised Offer of Judgment in (2001).

  • Plaintiffs accepted the defendant's offer, which lays out changes in operation of close management units and requires full range of mental health services commensurate with clinical need.


Fluellen v. Wetherington, Complaint (2002).
  • Class action lawsuit brought by mentally ill offenders in Georgia's Phillips State Prison alleging staff brutality and mistreatment of mentally ill inmates and lack of mental health services.


Rasho v. Snyder, Complaint (2001).

  • Inmates at Tamms supermaximum security prison allege deficiencies in mental health treatment.


Russell v. Johnson, Report by Terry A. Kupers, M.D. (2002).

  • Dr. Kupers reports on mental health impact of appalling conditions of confinement and dismal mental health services on death row, Unit 31, at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

New Jersey

C.F. v. Terhune, Expert Report by Dennis Koson (1998).

  • Based on prison inspections conducted in 1996 and 1997, Dr. Koson presents detailed findings to support his conclusion that the "treatment of mentally ill inmates in the NJDOC is among the worst I have seen in my 15 years of inspecting correctional systems nationwide."

C.F. v. Terhune, Settlement Agreement (1998).

  • Settlement of class action case brought by mentally ill prisoners in New Jersey.

New York

Disability Advocates v. NYS Office of Mental Health, Complaint (2002).

  • Lawsuit filed on behalf of mentally ill prisoners alleging systemic abuses in the New York Department of Correctional Services, including inadequate mental health service and programs and the placement of mentally ill prisoners in isolated confinement as punishment.

Eng v. Goord, Report by Stuart Grassian, M.D. (1999).

  • Following settlement of case addressing serious deficiencies in management of psychiatric illness in the Attica SHU, Dr. Grassian's report on his first site visit to the SHU concludes there has been little substantive improvement and that treatment remains grossly inadequate.

Ruiz v. Johnson, Report by Keith R. Curry, Ph.D. (2002).

  • Review of problems with mental health services for mentally ill administrative segregation inmates in Texas prisons.

Ruiz v. Johnson, Report by Jeffrey Metzner. M.D (1998).

  • Dr. Metzner finds significant problems in mental health care delivery system at the Estelle Unit, which reflect system-wide deficiencies in the Texas prison system, including failure to diagnoses major mental illnesses, inadequate treatment, and placement of inmates with serious mental illnesses in high security units that make their illnesses worse.


Jones 'El v. Berge, Expert Report by Terry Kupers, M.D. (2001).
Jones 'El v. Litscher, Declaration of Terry A. Kupers, M.D. (2001)

  • Kupers statements provide a detailed, comprehensive review of mental health impact on both mentally ill prisoners and those with no previous diagnosis of mental illness of conditions in Wisconsin's supermaximum security prison and the deficiencies in its mental health services. Dr. Kupers found that many prisoners confined in Wisconsin's supermax Correctional Institution were mentally ill, that they were not receiving the mental health treatment their psychiatric condition requires, and that conditions of confinement there posed extreme danger for their mental health and well-being.


Letter from U.S. Department of Justice to Governor of Wyoming (1999).

    · Investigation into conditions at Wyoming State Penitentiary found critically deficient mental health services.