Prison system: Alabama making progress in mental health

Alabama prison officials contend they are making "substantial progress" in increasing mental health staff and have asked a federal judge to not find the state in contempt of court.

Posted: Dec 24, 2018 4:47 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama prison officials contend they are making "substantial progress" in increasing mental health staff and have asked a federal judge to not find the state in contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has scheduled a Jan. 7 hearing on whether the Alabama Department of Corrections should be found in contempt of a court order to increase mental health staffing numbers to minimum levels.

The department wrote in a Friday court filing acknowledged that Wexford Health Sources, the contractor hired to provide health care, had not been able to meet staffing targets but said "both are making all efforts to increase staffing as quickly as possible."

"In sum, the state is not contending that it has fulfilled every requirement of the staffing remedial order. But it has made in good faith all reasonable efforts to do so, and those efforts have resulted in substantial progress," the filing stated.

Attorneys for the inmates have asked the judge to find the prison system in contempt, arguing the prison system is "woefully short" of a requirement to fill 263 full-time mental health positions.

"Defendants' contempt is placing prisoners with serious mental-health needs at a substantial risk of serious harm every day. Their failures are most evident when looking at staffing levels for mental-health staff with advanced training, specifically psychiatrists, CRNPs, psychologists, and registered nurses," lawyers for inmates wrote earlier this month.

Elaine Gedman, chief administrative officer and executive vice president for Wexford Health Sources, disputed that characterization. She wrote in a declaration with the court filing that they had provided 227 full-time equivalent positions.

The prison system wrote that there has been difficulty in recruiting staff because of a shortage of health professionals in the state, particularly in rural areas. They also said compliance should be measured by "hours of service" provided, instead of just positions filled.

Thompson last year ruled that mental health care was "horrendously inadequate" in state prisons and created unconstitutional conditions. The ruling came after the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed a class-action lawsuit over health care in state prisons.

The first inmate to testify at the trial killed himself days after describing past suicide attempts and a lack of psychiatric treatment while in state custody.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Columbus
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Oxford
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 46°
Starkville
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
High pressure will dominate our weather forecast for our Tuesday. This means we will see some good weather for our Tuesday. However, some rain and thunderstorms will be in our weather forecast down the line with some more low pressure in our area.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather