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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

It's a start

This is one of those "good idea, but . . ." things:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Department of Correction officials said Wednesday they hope to move all of the prison system’s seriously mentally ill inmates to one central location designed for their care by the first of next year.

The department’s top financial and mental health officials said during a federal court hearing that they plan to overhaul an unused, 22-bed unit at the prison complex in Pendleton into a new treatment center for the seriously mentally ill.

The hearing was held as an update on the prison agency’s progress in complying with a court order mandating it improve its treatment of its estimated 5,000 mentally ill prisoners.

[. . .]

Craig Hanks, the department’s executive director for mental health, said officials plan to renovate a cell unit at the prison about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis to house about 200 of the system’s most seriously mentally ill offenders. Less seriously ill inmates would continue to be housed at prisons in New Castle and Westville. The change would also require the agency to hire more mental health specialists, officials said.

The state went kicking and screaming into this -- the solution here is just a settlement to comply with a judge's order the state was in danger of being in contempt of. The state's historic method of handling mentally ill prisoners was to ignore the mental illness and just lock them up for 23 hours a day like everybody else. That made the "guilty but menally ill" verdict a joke. So I'm not sure I trust prison officials to determine which 200 of the 5,000 mentally ill priosners are the most "seriously" ill and need the separate housing.