Wisconsin settles prison health lawsuit

Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:47 PM

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Wisconsin settled litigation over healthcare at its women's prison Thursday, agreeing to provide facilities equal to those already available to male inmates.

Construction of facilities for female prisoners with mental illness is expected to cost taxpayers $26 million, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. A full-time doctor for Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac will cost $195,000 a year just for salary.

Larry Dupuis, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, suggested the spending might save money in the long run.

"You don't want to have people dying unnecessarily, and you don't want to have to deal with the lawsuits that result from that," he said.

The ACLU filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Taycheedah's 700 inmates in 2006. The group said the consequences of failure to provide adequate physical and mental healthcare for inmates included needless health problems, suicides and an outbreak of staph that infected hundreds of prisoners.

Taycheedah now has a part-time doctor. Under the agreement, the prison will hire a full-time doctor trained in family practice.

The state also agreed to complete a facility for 45 mentally ill inmates by June 2012 and provide new therapy facilities at the prison.

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