Complaint over patients in prison

Aug 12, 2016

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Rep. Renny Cushing and three other patient advocates have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over the practice of housing some mental health patients in the Secure Psychiatric Unit (SPU) of the state prison.

In New Hampshire, an individual with mental illness who “present[s] a serious likelihood of danger to himself or to others” may be committed to the secure psychiatric unit in the state prison without committing a crime. 

Earlier this year Rep. Cushing sponsored a bill to forbid the practice, but the bill failed.  Other legislative studies have recommended that the state end the practice by building a secure unit in the state hospital.

“New Hampshire has shirked its responsibility to provide appropriate treatment for its citizens with mental illness because of a general resistance to spend the funds necessary to do what two separate legislative studies have suggested,” the complaint states

Others argue that patients receive excellent care in the SPU.  Prisoners and patients also mingle in other treatment environments, such as drug rehabilitation facilities.

The SPU was not addressed in the 2013 lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice over New Hampshire’s mental health system.

Do you think New Hampshire should be allowed to house patients in the SPU?  Let us know in the comments.

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RELATED REPRESENTATIVES

Representative, NH House of Representatives (2012 - present, 2008 - 2010); Member, Campaign for Ratepayers Rights; Justice of the Peace; Co-Founder, Peacewatch Ireland; Executive Director, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights

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