Mentally ill prisoners in Oregon are still spending more than 23 hours a day locked in their cells, despite a Department of Corrections pledge to give them more time out.
A little more than a year ago, Disability Rights Oregon studied prisoners in the Behavioral Health Unit at the state penitentiary.
It found staff routinely tasered, pepper-sprayed and held inmates in cells for 23 hours a day without access to adequate mental health care.
After the 2015 report, the department pledged to improve the situation over four years.
Joel Greenberg with Disability Rights says the state has put TVs in cells and allowed sunlight and fresh air in the recreational areas.
“Unfortunately on the negative side of the ledger, they’ve made very little significant progress toward reducing the amount of time that inmates spend…in their cells,” Greenberg said.
The Department of Corrections issued a statement saying it’s added treatment classrooms, increased staffing and expanded the library.
But the department conceded, there is work to do to reach the desired 20-hours-a-week out-of-cell time.
The department has repeatedly turned down OPB’s requests to visit the Behavioral Health Unit.
Read the full report here.