Mentally ill inmates sue Bristol sheriff over solitary confinement

January 9, 2018
The Boston Globe
By Maria Cramer

Three inmates with serious mental illness filed a lawsuit against officials at the Bristol County Jail Tuesday, alleging they were placed in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours a day while receiving little treatment for their conditions.

“It should be obvious to defendants and to any reasonable person that the conditions imposed [on the inmates] cause tremendous mental anguish, suffering and pain to such individuals,” asserts the lawsuit, filed against Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson and other jail officials in Plymouth Superior Court. “Defendants are deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk of serious harm suffered by plaintiffs.”

After receiving repeated complaints about the facilities, lawyers from two advocacy groups, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts and the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, interviewed 100 inmates who either had mental health issues or had been put in solitary confinement, also known as segregation.

We had been hearing horror stories for many years from prisoners in Bristol,” said Bonnie Tenneriello, a staff attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services.

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