Prisons & Jails
We envision a society where all people with disabilities, whether they are detained or incarcerated, live free from abuse, neglect and exploitation, are empowered through self-determination and self-advocacy, and have equal access to services.
What We Do
We respond to disability-related questions from people who are involved in the criminal justice system and send resources/rights information and make referrals. We can assist individuals with disabilities who have been discriminated against or denied services through case work, civil legal representation and self-advocacy training. We can also serve detainees/inmates with disabilities who have disability-related issues connected to their incarceration or reentry into society on issues ranging from the use of restraints and segregation to the need for accommodations or Medicaid services once released. Staff also work to improve laws, regulations, policies and practices that affect people with disabilities in the criminal justice system through litigation and advocacy. P&A can also monitor the conditions of prisons, jails, and detention centers.
SC Department of Corrections Case: In 2005, DRSC, then P&A and three individuals sued the SC Department of Corrections on behalf of all inmates with serious mental illness. In 2014 then Circuit Court Judge Michael Baxley ruled that the SCDC mental health program is “inherently flawed and systemically deficient in all major areas,” and ordered prison officials to reform the system to provide more humane treatment of prison inmates with serious mental illness. Order Granting Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs. SCDC appealed, but also agreed to mediation in an attempt to resolve issues. In 2016 the parties agreed to a multi-year plan to improve mental health services at SCDC. Settlement Agreement May 31, 2016. The Circuit Court approved the settlement and the SC Supreme Court has issued a final order. The parties are working to implement the Settlement Agreement. The Nelson Mullins law firm represents P&A and the class pro bono. For additional information see: www.mentalhealth4inmates.org
- ACLU: Know your rights prisoners with disabilities
- ACLU National Prison Project Factsheet: Medical, Dental and Mental Health Care
- ADA National Network Factsheet: Correctional Facilities
- Juveniles in Custody for Noncriminal Acts
- Probation Referral: A Model for Diversion of Children and Youth with Disabilities from the Juvenile Justice System October 2019 by National Disability Rights Network