December 22, 2015 – Rasho v. Walker Settled

On this day in history, Rasho v. Walker, Docket / Court 1:07-CV-1298-HAB-JAG ( C.D. Ill. ), finally settled after eight years. The class-action abuse case involved the treatment of mentally ill inmates in Illinois prisons.

The claims of plaintiffs beggared belief. According to The University of Chicago Magazine (Spring, 2016, at p. 18):

In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment: Inmates who attempted to hang themselves using prison-issued sheets say they were fined for the cost of the sheet. Suicidal inmates would be stripped naked and put in “crisis cells” with no mattress or blankets. Some were deprived of psychotropic medications, causing serious health risks. Others were forced into extended periods in solitary confinement as punishment for their symptoms. (The IDOC [Illinois Department of Corrections] has not admitted liability regarding the allegations.)”

IDOC Star

IDOC Star

The managing attorney for cvil rights at Equip for Equality, avers that the claims were true. Another attorney working on the case pro bono observed:

It’s a combination of neglect, insensitivity, and a level of unconcern that is shocking.”

The settlement provided that, for the first time ever, Illinois would provide both long-term and acute care in residential treatment centers for prisoners who are so seriously mentally ill that they require hospitalization. In addition, more than 300 new clinical hires would be made to help provide treatment for prisoners with serious mental illnesses, along with over 400 new security staff to work at the new residential treatment units. Assignments to solitary confinement will be reviewed. Construction costs for the new facilities were estimated to be $40 million and the new personnel costs were expected to be approximately $40 million annually.

You can read more about the case, as well as access pertinent documents, here.

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