Officials at the highest-security U.S. federal prison have taken steps to address mental-health issues among inmates after a lawsuit that accuses the government of indifference, reports the Denver Post. The changes at the administrative maximum prison in Florence, Co., known as Supermax, started last summer after attorneys filed suit in Denver on behalf of several inmates who say their mental illnesses are not being treated at the prison.
The suit charged that prison officials transfer inmates they know to be mentally ill to Supermax, in violation of prison policies, then stop treating the inmates' illnesses — including taking them off medication. At least six Supermax inmates have killed themselves inside the prison, says the suit, and many others have attempted suicide or mutilated themselves. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels wrote a memo to all federal inmates encouraging suicidal inmates to seek help from prison psychologists. "If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide," Samuels wrote, "it is not because solutions do not exist; it is because you are currently unable to see them. Do not lose hope." Denver attorney Edwin Aro, representing the Supermax inmates, said a video message from Samuels about prison mental-health services is played to Supermax inmates.