Friday, May 24, 2024

ACLU sues North Carolina over illegal detention of mental health patients

Must read

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is being sued for violating the rights of mentally disabled and mentally ill people jailed in the state. In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, Disability Rights North Carolina and the Arnold & Porter law firm accuse the state of denying detainees proper evaluations and care, leading to unfair trials where defendants may not even understand the charges against them. 

Further, the plaintiffs allege the state keeps mentally disabled detainees jailed for months without proper due process, not providing them with adequate counsel to move their cases forward. The excessive time behind bars—in conjunction with denying them adequate treatment—is leading to self-harm and acts of violence, according to a joint statement from the plaintiffs. 

In many cases, the time spent detained in jail or psychiatric facilities awaiting trial exceeds the punishment for alleged crimes, the groups added. They claim even detainees capable of proceeding to trial wait an average of 68 days behind bars for that assessment to be made. Additionally, detainees who are incapable of standing trial could be made capable by proper treatment, which often takes more than five months due to overpopulation in state-operated psychiatric hospitals.

Latest article