Ohio's Top Prison Psychiatrist Testifies in Prison Health Trial

Dec 13, 2016

Chief psychiatrist for Ohio's prisons Dr. Kathryn Burns speaking with inmate Quiana Froe.
Credit Tom Dodge / Columbus Dispatch

The chief psychiatrist for Ohio’s state prison system says Alabama fails to spot mental illness in many of its inmates and lacks the mental health staff to effectively treat those who are diagnosed.

Al.com reports Dr. Kathryn Burns testified yesterday as an expert witness on behalf of inmates suing Alabama's correctional system.

Burns says the percentage of inmates identified as mentally ill in Alabama — about 14 percent — is about half that seen in other states. She says that suggests many mentally ill prisoners aren’t being counted.

She also testified the prison system has far too few psychiatrists and other mental health professionals attending to inmates.

Dr. Burns's testimony is expected to continue today in a trial that’s expected to last about eight weeks. The lawsuit contends Alabama is failing to provide Constitutionally-guaranteed minimum levels of health care and mental health care to inmates. The Department of Corrections disputes those allegations.