mental illness

‘This is not ordinary’: 5 inmate suicides in 3 months at Graterford

April 5, 2018 | Nina Feldman | WHYY Public Radio

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is under pressure to act after five inmates at Graterford Prison have died by suicide in the last three months.

“This is not ordinary, this many incidents and this short a time,” said Pennsylvania DOC Secretary John Wetzel.

The latest inmate, 58-year-old Roland Alston, died by suicide last week at the Montgomery County facility where Alston had been serving a life sentence since 1984.

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Graterford Prisons Hires Expert In Response To Inmate Suicides

March 30, 2018 | Cheri Gregg | CBS Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Five inmates at Graterford prison have taken their own lives in the past three months. Prison officials have brought in an expert to help.

Listen to the CBS audio news report here →

Was Graterford inmate on suicide watch when he took his life? Superintendent is out, but answers scarce

March 15, 2018 | Samantha Melamed | Philadelphia Daily News

Bobbie London wants answers.

The Parkesburg resident has been trying for a month to find out the truth about what happened to her son, Christopher Gilchrist, who died at Graterford Prison on Feb. 14. London says a coroner informed her that Gilchrist was on 24-hour suicide watch at the time, though the Department of Corrections (DOC) has not confirmed it. Gilchrist, who was 31, used a sheet and towel to hang himself, according to the Montgomery County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“I don’t understand how someone on suicide watch has the time to get that much done,” London said.

Gilchrist’s death was one of four suicides at Graterford in a span of five weeks, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. By comparison, the entire DOC has counted seven suicides per year on average since 2000.

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Lawsuit: Mentally ill inmates are being mistreated

June 13, 2017 | Marcia Moore | The Daily Item

Seriously mentally ill inmates at the U.S. penitentiary at Lewisburg are being given word games and Sudoku puzzles instead of treatment and medication, according to a class action lawsuit filed against the federal bureau of prisons.

The suit, filed by the DC Prisoner’s Project of the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, claims prisoners received minimal interaction with counselors, often just a minute or two each week and through cell doors.

Men with lifetime histories of schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar disorder, depression and other serious mental conditions often receive no treatments at all and are held in cells, often with another inmate, for 23 hours or more a day. Instead of treatment, the suit alleges, these inmates receive Sudoku puzzles, word games and coloring pages.

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