Disgusting. Appalling. Excruciating.
Please take time to read the article and then do something about it. If you live in South Carolina, talk to your legislators. If you don’t, call someone here anyway. This must stop.
Willful abuse of the mentally ill, even if they have been convicted of a crime, is inhumane and despicable. And I’m not surprised that it’s happening here, a state that values its social services so little I’m amazed we even have infrastructure left.
On Wednesday, in one of the most wrenching opinions you will ever read, a state judge in Columbia ruled that South Carolina prison officials were culpable of pervasive, systemic, unremitting violations of the state\’s constitution by abusing and neglecting mentally ill inmates. The judge, Michael Baxley, a decorated former legislator, called it the \”most troubling\” case he ever had seen and I cannot disagree. Read the ruling. It\’s heartbreaking.
The evidence is now sadly familiar to anyone who follows these cases: South Carolina today mistreats these ill people without any evident traces of remorse. Even though there are few disputed material issues of law or fact in the case, even though the judge implored the state to take responsibility for its conduct, South Carolina declared before the sun had set Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling—and thus likely doom the inmates to years more abuse and neglect. That\’s not just \”deliberate indifference,\” the applicable legal standard in these prison abuse cases. That is immoral.
But what makes this ruling different from all the rest—and why it deserves to become a topic of national conversation—is the emphasis Judge Baxley placed upon the failure of the good people of South Carolina to remedy what they have known was terribly wrong since at least 2000. Where was the state\’s medical community while the reports piled up chronicling the mistreatment of these prisoners? Where was the state\’s legal community as government lawyers walked into court year after year with frivolous defenses for prison policies? Where were the religious leaders, the ones who preach peace and goodwill?