Lawsuit Addresses Alabama’s Treatment of Mentally Ill Inmates

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The chief psychiatrist for the Ohio prison system says that Alabama fails to spot mental illness in many inmates and lacks the staff to effectively treat those who are diagnosed. ( ) reports that Dr. Kathryn Burns testified Monday as an expert witness on behalf of inmates who sued the state.

Burns says the percentage of inmates identified as mentally ill in Alabama – about 14 percent – is about half that seen in other states. She says that suggests many ill prisoners are being missed.

She also testified the prison system has too few psychiatrists and other mental health professionals attending to inmates.

The lawsuit contends that Alabama is failing to provide adequate mental health care to inmates. The Department of Corrections disputes the allegation.

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