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Over 60% of Oregon Prisoner Suicides Linked to Mental Illness, Isolation

Over 60% of Oregon Prisoner Suicides Linked to Mental Illness, Isolation

by Mark Wilson

Nathan Bashaw, 21, had a mere 259 days left to serve until his April 1, 2008 release date. He was serving a sentence in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) for attempted robbery. But prison life became more than Nathan could bear, and on July 18, 2007 he tied a bed sheet around his neck, attached the other end to a small table in his cell and sat down to die.

Nathan was the 26th Oregon prisoner to commit suicide within the past decade. His was the fourth suicide in 2007, the highest annual total since 1998, when the same number of self-inflicted deaths occurred.

During 2001-2002, ODOC’s suicide rate was nearly double the national average according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)1, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Those findings were based upon data collected under the Death in Custody Reporting Act (Public Law 106-297).2

Suicide is a leading cause of prisoner deaths, ranking third among all prison deaths.3
Nationally, 337 state prisoners committed suicide in 2001-2002, for an average rate of 14 per 100,000. Oregon’s prison system reported five suicides during the study period, for an average of 23 per 100,000. The freeworld suicide rate during the same period of time was 11 per 100,000.

Commonalities Found

Even a cursory evaluation of the 26 suicides in ODOC custody since 1998 reveals some glaring similarities: 24 were male, 23 involved hanging, 16 had known mental illnesses, and 15 were committed in segregation plus one soon after release from segregation. Of these factors, two are significant: 61.5 percent of those who committed suicide were mentally ill and confined within, or just released from, solitary confinement.

This is no surprise to ODOC officials. In October 2004, a Managing Mental Illness in Prison (MMIP) Task Force appointed by ODOC Director Max Williams acknowledged that as early as 1995, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) had found “the presence of significant mental illness” and “being housed in a segregated or isolated housing unit” were common characteristics among prisoners who “successfully completed suicides.”4

The MMIP Task Force – comprised largely of high-ranking ODOC officials – also recognized that among suicide risk factors for prisoners, “one of the most important and consistent findings in suicide prevention research is the strong correlation between segregation and successful suicide.”5 Another significant factor was mental illness.

An estimated 5,400 of ODOC’s 13,500 prisoners (40%) have some form of mental illness and are in need of treatment, according to ODOC reports.6 Nearly 1,500 prisoners (11%) pose the greatest concern, as they suffer from severe and persistent mental problems such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression.7 That is almost twice the number of patients at the Oregon State Hospital, Oregon’s largest psychiatric treatment facility.

Prison officials typically refuse to comment on prisoners’ mental health issues, citing federal privacy laws. However, at least 16 of the 26 ODOC prisoners (61.5%) who committed suicide since 1998 had known psychiatric problems.8 Take Nathan Bashaw, for example. After his suicide, prison officials refused to comment on his mental health history. ODOC Public Information Officer Amber Campbell would say only that he had not previously displayed suicidal tendencies.

Jana Russell, ODOC’s Administrator of Counseling and Treatment Services, told a different story. Nathan was being held in a Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU) – solitary confinement – when a mental health caseworker evaluated him for suicide risk, according to Russell. The reason for the assessment was unclear, but given the overwhelming caseload of ODOC’s severely understaffed mental health workers, it certainly wasn’t conducted on a whim. Based upon the evaluation Nathan was moved from DSU to a psychiatric unit, where he killed himself six days later.9

Jeremy Ayala, 24, is another tragic example. In August 2006, one month after his girlfriend died in his arms from a drug overdose, Jeremy was returned to prison to serve a 15-month sentence. He was haunted by nightmares and deep depression due to his girlfriend’s death, according to his mother, Mary Ayala. Medication “made it worse,” she said. “He kept saying his medication was making him crazy.”

Within two months Jeremy was locked down in the Intensive Management Unit (IMU) – solitary confinement – at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP). After midnight on October 14, 2006, he draped a bed sheet across the front of his cell and refused to remove it. Just before 1 a.m., two guards entered Jeremy’s cell and found him slumped on the floor, unconscious. A sheet was wrapped around his neck and he had taken an estimated 50-60 aspirin.

Jeremy was transported to a hospital where he recovered. Once returned to OSP, he was housed in a psychiatric unit on suicide watch, where he remained for five months. In March 2007, Jeremy was transferred to the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI), which does not have a psychiatric unit.

His mental state quickly deteriorated. “He kept hearing voices,” said Mary Ayala. “He imagined that people were yelling at him. He said he was going crazy.” He was then returned to OSP’s psychiatric unit, stabilized, and moved back to OSCI.

On May 2, 2007, Jeremy was locked in DSU for assault and possession of contraband. He cut himself while serving a 91-day stint in segregation. Just a week later, on May 9, 2007, Jeremy’s mother received a chilling letter from her son. “I don’t know what to do anymore,” he wrote. “I can’t fight this shit no more. Everyday is hell for me. I just want it to stop … I’m tired of being a fuck up. And it’s time for me to go.”

These proved to be Jeremy’s final tormented words to his family. Late that night, Jeremy tied a sheet to the bars of his DSU cell, wrapped it around his neck and hung himself. He was pronounced dead on May 10, 2007, becoming Oregon’s twenty-fifth prisoner suicide since 1998. ODOC prisoner George W. Miller, 18, had killed himself in DSU less than two months earlier, on March 14.

Isolation Linked to Mental Illness, Prisoner Suicides

The extremely high suicide risk among mentally ill prisoners spikes dramatically when they are locked within the oppressive confines of IMU and DSU. The majority of ODOC’s 26 suicides since 1998 occurred in or immediately after release from segregation units.10 Again, this comes as no surprise to prison officials, given the MMIP’s 2004 findings.

ODOC opened its first IMU at the Oregon State Penitentiary in 1991, as one of the nation’s first supermax units. A second IMU was built at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon in the late 1990s. Prison officials claim supermax confinement is reserved for the “worst of the worst.” While the “worst of the worst” can be found in supermax units, so can many prisoners who should not be placed in segregation.

Oregon criminal defense attorney Steven Gorham has visited many clients in ODOC’s IMU. “The sensory deprivation comes from not having a lot of contact with people, being locked in that room for 23 ½ hours a day and not being able to get outside,” he said. “It’s all metal cells with metal doors.... There’s no insulation to suck up the noise, so the overload in IMU is just horrendous.”

DSU is comparable to IMU. Prisoners in DSU are locked in a cell 23 hours a day in extreme isolation for extended periods. In fact, in June 2007, prison officials at OSP began confining DSU prisoners in IMU.11

The extremely harmful effects of isolation, even on prisoners who have no history of mental illness, are well known and indisputable. The conditions in supermax units like Oregon’s IMU are so degrading and dehumanizing that a United Nations report described isolation in such units as torture.12

As early as 1890, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the dramatic impact of solitary confinement, observing, “A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide….”13

Regardless, the mentally ill are overrepresented in prison segregation units. According to David C. Fathi, former senior staff counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project and current US Program Director for Human Rights Watch in Washington D.C., “Most experts estimate that approximately 10 to 20 percent of all prisoners in state and federal prisons suffer from a mental illness. In supermax facilities, however, the number is far higher.”14

Oregon is no different. In October 2004, the MMIP found that “Thirty to forty-five percent of the more severe mentally ill population in DOC is housed in the most restrictive security units, Intensive Management Unit (IMU) and Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU). There are no alternatives or system in place to house and treat inmates with both mental illness and significant disciplinary problems.”15

“Prisons respond to disciplinary issues by segregating people,” observed Robert Joondeph, executive director of the Oregon Advocacy Center. “If a person has a psychotic disorder, that may be the worst thing you can do with them.”

According to ODOC’s MMIP Task Force, citing findings by the American Psychiatric Association, “Solitary confinement or extended segregation may cause extreme stress for a mentally ill person and can promote the decomposition and exacerbate the illness.”16 Additionally, the MMIP noted that “segregation may be so anxiety provoking for some that they may go to extreme lengths to avoid it, including threatening or attempting suicide.”17

As a teenager, Aaron Munoz was repeatedly sexually abused by his juvenile probation officer.18 Aaron, 18, was sent to the ODOC in 2001 to serve a sentence for third degree assault. He quickly landed in IMU. His aunt, Kelly Ann Mills, believes that solitary confinement fueled his anger, shame and depression resulting from the sexual abuse. “In that kind of environment, you have no real communication with anybody,” she said. “It just gave him too much time to think.”

On January 28, 2005, Mills visited Aaron in segregation. “I had never seen him that angry,” she stated. “There really was no talking to him.” That night, just before 9 p.m., Aaron was discovered hanging in his cell. He had killed himself just one week before his scheduled release date.

Mentally Ill Cannot Escape ?Isolation, Not Monitored

Yet another cruelty visited upon mentally ill prisoners is the fact that their illness virtually guarantees they will remain trapped in segregation. As Fathi explains, “The only possible ticket out is sustained good behavior – which means, at a minimum, compliance with the numerous and often picayune rules that govern every prison. For many persons with mental illness – particularly mental illness aggravated by the extreme stress of supermax confinement – that is simply not possible.”19

Like many supermax units, ODOC’s IMU operates on a “level” system. Incoming prisoners begin on Level One, where the conditions are the starkest and most restrictive.
They must remain there a minimum of 30 days and “earn” their way to each slightly less restrictive level. Reaching Level Four takes a minimum of six months and is a prerequisite to release from IMU confinement.

Prison officials tout ODOC’s IMU as a “programming” unit where prisoners can attend anger management classes and behavior modification programs. However, as attorney Steven Gorham notes, “most of it’s filling out forms, saying ‘I’ll be good. This [behavior] is what got me here.’ It’s cognitive stuff. Some of it can be very good. But the mentally ill people there can’t do it because they’re mentally ill.”

Thus, in many cases mentally ill prisoners languish in solitary confinement indefinitely, until they can no longer take the isolation and try to kill themselves.

“Who do I blame?” asked Mary Ayala, her voice cracking with emotion as she spoke of her son Jeremy’s DSU suicide. “Them for not keeping an eye on him.” Aaron Munoz’s aunt, Kelly Mills, feels the same way. “I would think that the intensive management unit is just that, intensive management, where you know what your inmates are doing,” she said. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

According to an Oregon State Police investigation into the suicide of IMU prisoner Randall James, guards in the segregation unit weren’t watching the prisoners and would routinely falsify records to make it appear they were doing so.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on November 27, 2006, ODOC guard Harrison Branch found a gruesome scene in Randall’s IMU cell. “James was covered in blood and there was blood spurting from his right arm,” wrote investigators. Another guard described it as “the most blood he had seen in his life.”

Randall had previously attempted suicide in IMU by cutting himself. Later, he attempted to tear out his stitches. He had said “he didn’t want to live like this,” according to detectives. Randall got his wish. He was pronounced dead the following day, though the cause of death was attributed to heart problems, not self-inflicted injuries.20

An ensuing investigation revealed that while IMU guards were required to conduct tier checks – walk past and look into each cell – every thirty minutes, in the hours before Randall was discovered Corporal Branch and other guards skipped at least two checks, then falsified paperwork to make it appear the checks were done.

When guards weren’t doing tier checks, they would typically “socialize in the training room and play paper football,” stated ODOC guard Ryan Hakala. He offered additional damning testimony. Hakala told investigators he had seen guards on both the day and night shifts falsify log books. In fact, “it was sometimes a nightly occurrence,” a police report stated. When pressed for names of guards who falsified records, Hakala “listed off Corporal Branch, CO Richard Pokorny, and CO Eric White,” wrote investigators.

Branch initially agreed to speak with detectives but quickly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, terminating the interview, after receiving phone calls from two IMU co-workers. No criminal charges were brought against any of the guards, but ODOC Spokesperson Perrin Damon acknowledged in July 2007 that administrative action was being considered.

ODOC’s Suicide Response: ?Too Little, Too Late

ODOC officials claim they do not take prisoner suicides lightly. “I think we’re going after it very aggressively, from the top all the way down,” said ODOC administrator Jana Russell. “We are listening to everybody. We are talking to other states. We are conducting research. We’re just stretching to look at everything we can.”

Yet effective solutions are far from mysterious. In fact, ODOC has previously solicited and received the answers; they simply don’t like them. The prison system contracted with nationally recognized suicide expert Lindsay Hayes in 1999 to review five ODOC suicides in a six month period – four of which occurred in segregation.

Hayes warned against isolating mentally ill prisoners, because “the use of isolation not only escalates the inmate’s sense of alienation, but also further serves to remove the individual from proper staff supervision.” Yet five years later, in October 2004, the MMIP found that “DSU and IMU have a forty percent (40%) mentally ill population.”21

In the eight years since Hayes warned ODOC against placing prisoners with mental problems in segregation, a majority of all ODOC suicides have occurred in solitary confinement units. The answer to preventing such suicides is clear and simple: Stop isolating mentally ill prisoners. Yet even when confronted with a series of suicides in segregation, “prison officials say they can’t rule out solitary confinement … for inmates with mental illness.”22

Rather than ODOC’s purported aggressive search for answers to prison suicides, this brings to mind an old adage that defines insanity as doing what you’ve always done while expecting different results. But perhaps ODOC officials don’t honestly expect, or care about, different results.

In 2004, the MMIP found that with a mere 72 psychiatric beds in the entire prison system, located in just three of ODOC’s 15 facilities, Oregon “ranked 49 out of 50 in the nation.”23 The MMIP acknowledged that the “national standard for the number of [psychiatric] beds is 30 beds for every 1,000 inmates. This translates into more than 360 … beds to serve DOC’s 12,733 inmates.”24 It wasn’t until the Legislature approved the prison system’s record $1.3 billion budget in June 2007 that funding was allocated for additional psychiatric prison beds. Even then only 25-30 beds were approved, bringing the total to around 110 beds systemwide.

Russell suggested that suicide prevention was a daunting task, but acknowledged ODOC had an obligation to pursue all feasible preventative measures. She then listed several superficial, “feel-good” suicide-prevention methods that she claimed ODOC was “studying” or implementing, including:

* Inmate Monitors. Russell said approximately 40 prisoners systemwide were being trained to work as “face-to-face monitors” within the psychiatric units at three of ODOC’s 15 prisons. The monitors will offer emotional support to troubled prisoners, while acting as unofficial “eyes and ears” of mental health and security staff.

The most obvious problem with the “inmate monitor” concept is that a majority of ODOC suicides occur in DSU and IMU, not in prison psychiatric units. It appears that since 1998, only two of ODOC’s 26 suicides occurred in psychiatric units. Moreover, the program’s effectiveness will likely be undermined by prisoners viewing it as a “snitch program,” since the monitors are expected to report to security staff. Moreover, suicidal, mentally ill prisoners need trained, professional care, not pennies an hour prisoner “watchers.”

* “Brother’s Keeper.” ODOC officials are reportedly considering the adoption of a California DOC program that trains prisoners in suicide prevention and how to spot warning signs of crisis. Proponents contend this is effective because prisoners who have suicidal impulses are more trusting of other prisoners than prison staff. Trained prisoners are able to intervene when they see suicide warning signs.

It’s unclear how “Brother’s Keeper” differs from the “inmate monitor” concept, and it appears to suffer from the same problems noted with the monitor program. More importantly, the fact that “Brother’s Keeper” is a California program is reason for pause. In 2004, California had 26 prisoner suicides – the same number Oregon has seen in ten years – and in 2005, 44 California prisoners killed themselves.25 Thus, California is far from being a shining model for effective suicide prevention measures.

* “Suicide Calculator.” Paul Bellatty, ODOC’s Administrator of Research and Evaluation, has reportedly been working with a co-researcher for three years to develop a so-called “suicide calculator.” They have analyzed dozens of suicides and attempted suicides in Oregon prisons in an effort to create a way to “red flag” prisoners who have the greatest risk of suicide. Despite three years of research, Bellatty says work on the “calculator” is ongoing. Meanwhile, ten ODOC prisoners have killed themselves during that time period.

* Mental Health Transitional Units. ODOC is reportedly developing transitional or “step-down” units to help mentally ill prisoners in psychiatric units transition back into the general prison population. The MMIP recommended this development three years ago, but ODOC is only now acting on it.26 Step-down units will undoubtedly serve only those prisoners housed in psychiatric beds. While this is a positive development, it does nothing for mentally ill prisoners who are isolated in DSU and IMU, who are at the greatest risk of suicide.

* Electronic Time Keeping. Since prison guards apparently can’t be trusted to perform their jobs, ODOC is implementing a “Guard Watch” system in IMU. This is a card-activated electronic system that guarantees tier checks are performed. The new system requires guards to insert cards into a device that electronically records each tier check.

* More Psychiatric Beds. In response to Nathan Bashaw’s July 18, 2007 suicide in a psychiatric unit, ODOC officials announced plans to add more beds to such units. It appears these are the beds approved by the 2007 Legislature but not yet added by ODOC, rather than additional beds beyond the 25-30 that were previously approved.

According to the most recent information on ODOC’s website, “Improvements to mental health services include an increase in mental health case management services for all institutions, improved notification of mental health staff when inmates needing mental health care are involved in behavioral problems, and assignment of a specialized transition case manager to coordinate community treatment and to prepare inmates with mental illness for release from prison. In addition, all staff received training at annual in-service in confidentiality laws and in understanding and managing mental illness.”
Which is all well and good, but doesn’t include excluding mentally ill prisoners from solitary confinement, where they are most likely to kill themselves.

Everyone Except ODOC Agrees: Mentally Ill Prisoners Shouldn’t ?Be Isolated
The editorial board of the Statesman Journal, Oregon’s third largest newspaper, is normally a staunch ODOC cheerleader. On this issue, however, it was highly critical of ODOC’s slow response to its “shameful record” of 26 suicides over the past decade,27 and found the foregoing suicide prevention measures wholly inadequate.28 The paper concluded that ODOC must do more to prevent prisoner suicides, and prison officials “need to rethink how they use solitary confinement.”29

Even as ODOC continues to insist on isolating mentally ill prisoners,30 corrections officials and experts around the nation now recognize that solitary confinement should be ruled out for prisoners with mental problems.

“Several states have enacted laws that prohibit placing inmates with mental illness in 23-hour lockdown,” noted Carol Carothers, director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Maine.31 “State officials across the country are realizing what the ACLU has been saying all along,” added Maine Civil Liberties Union Director Shenna Bellows, “which is that supermax conditions are neither a humane nor an effective type of confinement.”32

On April 21, 2006, the Arkansas Department of Correction approved a policy change designed to exclude mentally ill prisoners from isolation.33 The change came just two months after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette exposed the DOC’s practice of placing prisoners with mental problems in solitary confinement.34

In Oregon, however, ODOC’s refusal to voluntarily remove mentally ill prisoners from segregation leaves litigation as the only hope for the hundreds of prisoners afflicted with mental illnesses who are decompensating in DSU and IMU. Fortunately, courts that have addressed the issue have repeatedly held that isolating mentally ill prisoners is unconstitutional.

In 1995, a federal judge in California found that placing mentally ill prisoners in the notorious SHU known as Pelican Bay was unconstitutional.35 In 2001, a judge in Wisconsin granted a preliminary injunction, ordering that seven seriously mentally ill prisoners be removed from that state’s supermax.36 A federal judge in Ohio prohibited confinement of mentally ill prisoners in isolation in a 2002 ruling.37 Legal challenges in Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio and New Mexico have resulted in settlement agreements in which prison officials have agreed to exclude mentally ill prisoners from supermax or segregation units.38

On April 27, 2007, a “landmark” settlement was reached in a federal lawsuit for mentally ill New York prisoners.39 During the settlement hearing, the judge suggested that “greater attention should probably be paid to the problem of extremely lengthy SHU confinement even to those who are not mentally ill,” given that “the conditions in SHUs … almost were guaranteed to worsen the mental condition of just about anyone, but certainly those with vulnerable psyches.”40

Oregon has not been immune from lawsuits. In early 2007, Aaron Munoz’s family filed a wrongful death suit against ODOC in state court. The suit alleged that prison officials “knew or reasonably should have known that depression can lead to suicide, and that Munoz was depressed.” It also accused ODOC officials of failing to conduct sufficient checks on Aaron in his segregation cell, failing to meet staffing requirements for the IMU, and permitting prison staff to “work for such extended periods of time that their effectiveness was compromised.”

The case quickly settled. On July 27, 2007 the state agreed to pay Aaron’s family $210,000 to resolve the lawsuit; $70,000 of that amount went to attorney’s fees.41 Prison officials refused to admit liability, however, and continue to isolate mentally ill prisoners.

Thus, the Munoz settlement did nothing to prevent such prisoners from suffering the same foreseeable, preventable and tragic fate of Aaron, Jeremy, Nathan, Randall and other mentally ill ODOC prisoners who committed suicide in segregation units. Since Oregon’s prison system refuses to voluntarily fulfill its legal and moral obligations to protect mentally ill prisoners languishing in IMU and DSU, it appears that litigation is their last hope for survival.

On May 1, 2008, the families of two Oregon prisoners who committed suicide, George W. Miller and Nathan Bashaw, filed suit in Marion County seeking a total of $3.2 million in damages from the state.42 If their lawsuit is successful, perhaps that dollar amount will finally get the ODOC’s attention.


1 “Suicide and Homicide in State Prisons and Local Jails,” BJS Report, NCJ 210036 (August 2005),

2 “Report Details Suicide and Homicide Rates in Prisons, Jails,” by Michael Rigby, Prison Legal News, May 2006, p.18

3 “Managing Mental Illness in Prison Task Force” (MMIP). Oregon Department of Corrections. Findings and Recommendations, October 2004. At App.E, p.47 (NIC Recommendations [citing Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1993])

4 MMIP, at App. E, pp.47-48 (citing Hayes [NIC 1995])

5 Ibid.

6 “Prison suicides linked to isolation,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal. (July 8, 2007); “Prison officials consider several methods to curb suicides,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal. (July 9, 2007). See also MMIP, at p.9

7 Ibid.

8 “Prison Suicides linked to isolation,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal. (July 8, 2007); “Inmate, 21, hangs himself at Snake River prison,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal. (July 20, 2007)

9 “Inmate, 21, hangs himself at Snake River prison,” by Alan Gustafson. (July 20, 2007) and “Prisoner safety must be made a priority,” by Editorial Board, Statesman Journal (July 22, 2007) (

10 See n.8 & 9, supra.

11 “‘Supermax’ suicides put vigilance at issue,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal (July 9, 2007) (

12 See, e.g., “Extreme isolation in prison is never justifiable,” by Caylor Roling, Prison Program Director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice. Statesman Journal. (July 27, 2007) ( See also: “UN Committee Against Torture Wants Guantanamo Closed” by Matthew T. Clark, Prison Legal News, August 2007, pp.20-21; and “Torture vs. Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment – Is the Distinction Real or Apparent?” by Metin Basoglu, MD, PhD, et al., Arch Gen Psychiatry, Vol. 64, pp.277-284, March 2004. Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg, Prison Legal News, August 2007, p.41

13 In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 168, 10 S.Ct. 384, 386, 33 L.Ed. 835 (1890)

14 “The New Asylum: Supermax as Warehouse for the Mentally Ill” by David C. Fathi, Prison Legal News, July 2007, pp.1-7 at p.3 (citing Kupers, “Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Do About It” (1999) and Howard Greninger, “Suit Targets Carlisle Prison,” Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Feb. 4, 2005)

15 MMIP, at p.13

16 MMIP, at App. E, p.45

17 Ibid.

18 Multnomah County Parole and Probation Officer Michael Boyles was sentenced to 80 years in prison for sexually abusing four teenage boys he supervised in the 1990s. The charges related to his abuse of Aaron were dismissed after Aaron committed suicide. See, e.g., “State to pay settlement in suicide of inmate” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal (July 27, 2007); “Prison suicides linked to isolation,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal (July 8, 2007)

19 “The New Asylum,” Prison Legal News, July 2007, p.5

20 “‘Supermax’ suicides put vigilance at issue,” by Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal (July 9, 2007) (

21 MMIP, at p.15

22 “More changes needed to curb prison suicides,” Editorial Board, Statesman Journal (July 15, 2007) ( ?AID=/200707)

23 MMIP, at p.22

24 Ibid.

25 “California’s 2005 Prison Suicide Rate Doubles Over 2004” by John E. Dannenberg, Prison Legal News, April 2006, p.22

26 MMIP, at pp.12-13, 18, 19-22

27 “More changes needed to curb prison suicides,” Statesman Journal (July 15, 2007); “Prisoner safety must be made a priority,” Statesman Journal (July 22, 2007) ( ?AID=/200707)
28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 “Torture in Maine’s Prison” by Lance Tapely, Prison Legal News, June 2006, pp.1-14, at p. 12

32 Ibid., at p.7

33 “Mentally Ill Arkansas Prisoners Removed from Supermax, CMS Contract Renewed” by Michael Rigby, Prison Legal News, November 2006, p.44

34 Ibid.

35 Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F.Supp 1146, 1265 (ND Cal. 1995)

36 Jones ‘El v. Berge, 164 F.Supp.2d 1096, 1125-26 (WD Wis. 2001)

37 “Study: Supermax Prisons Achieve Control While Inflicting Debilitating Side Effects, But Don’t Reduce Recidivism” by John E. Dannenberg, Prison Legal News, June 2007, pp.28, 29

38 For a detailed account of these lawsuits and the resulting court orders and settlement agreements, see “The Common Law of Supermax Litigation” by David Fathi, 24 Pace L. Rev. 675 (2004) and “Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness” (New York, Human Rights Watch 2003) at pp.145-168. See also: “Connecticut’s Mistreatment of Mentally Ill Prisoners and Detainees Enjoined” by John E. Dannenberg, Prison Legal News, May 2006, pp.24-25 (reporting on State of Connecticut OPA v. Choinski, U.S.D.C. Case No. 3:03CV1352 (D. Conn. 9/20/05))

39 “Landmark Settlement Reduces SHU Time, Increases Treatment of New York Prisoners with Mental Illness” by Betsy Sterling, Prison Legal News, June 2007, pp.17-19, at p.17 (quoting federal Judge Lynch’s comments at 4/27/07 settlement conference in Disability Advocates Inc. v. New York State Office of Mental Health and Department of Correctional Services, U.S.D.C. Case No. 02-cv-4002 (SD NY April 27, 2007))

40 Ibid.

41 Jorgenson v. State of Oregon, Marion Co. Circuit Court, Case No. 07C11205; Prison Legal News, February 2008, p.12

42 “Inmate Suicide Lawsuits Seek $3.2 Million,” The Oregonian (May 1, 2008)

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