Volume 35, Issue 2 (March 1990)
Prison Mental Health Services: Results of a National Survey of Standards, Resources, Administrative Structure, and Litigation
The formation of adequate mental health systems within prisons has accelerated as a result of successful class action lawsuits. Our recent national survey questioned all state correctional departments about the existence of standards in each system, compliance with such standards, prevalence of class action lawsuits involving the issue of providing adequate mental health services for inmates, issues related to consent decrees, available mental health resources within the correctional system, and the administrative structure of the mental health system. Our purpose was to identify those factors correlated with certified class action lawsuits involving issues related to mental health services. Twenty-one states were involved in such litigation. Only the presence of psychiatric hospitals operated by the department of corrections correlated with the presence of certified class action lawsuits involving mental health services. Prison systems larger than 15 000 inmates were at higher risk for such litigation. Smaller systems having psychiatric hospitals run by the state mental health agency appeared to be at less risk for such litigation.