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Dunn Testifies in Prison Mental Health Trial

The commissioner of Alabama’s Department of Corrections took the stand yesterday in an ongoing trial regarding mental health care for state inmates.

Back in June, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the care available to Alabama state inmates was “horrendously inadequate” and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. This phase of proceedings is all about how the Department of Corrections plans to fix those issues.

ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn testified regarding the department’s issues with understaffing. Dunn says the department has completed a preliminary staff analysis at three facilities and it appears that they need to more than double the number of correctional officers at Donaldson Correctional Facility and more than quadruple them at Bibb Correctional Facility.

ADOC officials say a lack of correctional officers is a huge obstacle to providing adequate health care, as the officers are needed to transport patients to and from treatment and to provide security for group sessions.

This afternoon, the court will hear arguments as to whether ADOC’s failures to provide mental health assessments to patients in segregation violates the U.S. Constitution.

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