Judge considers sanctioning Alabama prisons for mental care

The Alabama Department of Corrections only has about three-quarters of the number of mental health workers that it's supposed to have.

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 9:16 AM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge is considering whether to hold Alabama prisons in contempt of court for failing to provide inmates with adequate mental health care.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is hearing testimony in Montgomery on a request by inmate attorneys to sanction the department.

On Tuesday, testimony showed that a contractor hired to provide medical and mental health care for more than 20,000 inmates isn't complying with its contract.

The Alabama Department of Corrections only has about three-quarters of the number of mental health workers that it's supposed to have. Corrections officials say they don't have enough funding, and they have denied providing unconstitutional care.

The judge has previously ruled that psychiatric care in Alabama prisons was "horrendously inadequate." Thompson ruled the situation created unconstitutional conditions in state prisons.

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