Online Program

Litigation and treatment issues surrounding maximum-security segregation inmates with personality disorders

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Francis Sullivan, M.A., J.D., Division of Legal Services, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Madison, WI
The purpose of this research is to develop strategies to respond to lawsuits by prison inmates who suffer from personality disorders and are housed in a maximum-security segregation setting. Inmates with personality disorders consume a disproportionate share of psychological and legal resources. Many volitionally commit spectacular and repeated acts of self-harm, leading to diversion of mental health resources that could better be employed elsewhere. They then file lawsuits alleging deliberate indifference to their serious mental health needs, often leading to protracted, expensive litigation. The first phase of this project involves a systematic analysis of the law related to deliberate indifference to serious mental health needs. The second phase involves consultation with mental health professionals to develop an approach to identify disruptive inmates who may suffer from personality disorders, implement testing and other diagnostic procedures to reach a firm diagnosis, develop and implement appropriate treatment plans, and document the diagnosis, care, and treatment in a way that will withstand litigation. By strengthening documentation, employing targeted diagnostic testing, and developing appropriate treatment plans, staff will be able to allocate scare resources to needy patients, reduce the incidence of litigation based on self-harm, and have better outcomes when litigation ensues.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
List characteristics of inmate litigants housed in prison segregation units who are diagnosed with personality disorders; Describe diagnosis and treatment strategies; and Analyze strategies for dealing with this population that are likely to result in successful litigation outcomes.

Keyword(s): Correctional Health Care, Mental Health Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. In this capacity, I work closely with our correctional mental health staff to defend lawsuits and formulate strategies for resolving issues related to treatment. I train staff in litigation prevention and strategies for analyzing and documenting issues related to inmate self-harm, particularly in relation to inmates with personality disorders.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.