Update: SCDC Acting Director Bryan Stirling has replied to the plaintiffs, accepting their invitation to meet over lunch on Monday in hopes of reaching some consensus. Stirling also urged the plaintiffs to reconsider working together with the assistance of a mediator in a non-adversarial fashion.
Plaintiffs who’ve alleged the cruel and unusual punishment of mentally ill inmates in a class action lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Corrections are rebuffing a proposal by that agency’s acting director Bryan Stirling to reopen mediation talks.
Stirling had tacked a condition to his invitation: SCDC would put its promised appeal of Circuit Court Judge Michael Baxley’s ruling on hold if the plaintiffs would agree to have Baxley stay his order, a 45-page catalog of neglect and abuse, siding with the plaintiffs and mandating SCDC to present a remedial plan to the court within six months.
No deal, say the plaintiffs.
“Mediation is a pre-trial adversarial process that we unsuccessfully attempted in 2012,” the plaintiffs, who are represented by Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s pro bono team, wrote to Stirling. “We have been adversaries for nine years. It is time for us to sit down together not as adversaries, but as serious-minded people working together to correct the disturbing problems identified in Judge Baxley’s ruling.”
Among those problems were a shortage of mental health staff, inadequate facilities for providing mental health care in times of crisis, the mismanagement of medication and medical records and the inappropriate use of force and confinement in managing inmates with severe mental illnesses.
In addition to referencing the protracted nature of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ also claim they made good-faith overtures early in the process.
“Before filing the lawsuit in 2005, we asked the Department to join us in seeking additional resources from the legislature to address the well documented problems in the treatment of mentally ill inmates,” they write. “Only when the Department refused our request did we file suit.”
Stirling, who announced his overture to the plaintiffs in a Senate confirmation hearing two weeks ago, maintained in his written proposal “that SCDC has taken numerous steps to improve the mental health care delivery systems and that SCDC has several meritorious defenses that have not yet been addressed by Judge Baxley.”
But the plaintiffs replied that those corrective actions fell “far short of the measures needed to achieve meaningful reform” and that inhumane conditions and treatment still exist. “Some of the deficiencies are within your ability to correct internally; others will require additional resources from the legislature,” they wrote.
They also warned that adherence to Baxley’s order would be the agency’s best insurance against further litigation.
SCDC spokesman Clark Newsom told Free Times Tuesday morning that Stirling had received the plaintiffs’ reply to his proposal and that the agency was in the process of reviewing it.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
New Downtown Dessert and Coffee Bar!
Tony’s Italian Eatery has teamed up with Southern Charm Sweets to bring you the highest quality dessert selection in the downtown area. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2. Find us on Facebook!
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage is offering 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Trustus Theatre Presents Evil Dead, The Musical
This musical version of Sam Raimi’s cult classic films promises to serve up more humor than horror. You can read more and purchase your tickets here.
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18:
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Concord Park From the $150’s. Off 12th St. Extension. 803.419.2227. mungo.com
Click here for more real estate.
ST. ANDREWS COMMONS APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Close to everywhere YOU WANT TO BE! 1200 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
WATERFORD APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Prime location, and plenty of space. Live large at Waterford Apartments. Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 1340 Longcreek Dr., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
GABLE HILL APARTMENTS 1, 2 & 3 BR’s available with many amenities. Surround yourself with Southern comforts at Gable Hill Apartments! Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 310 Ross Rd, Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
Donate Plasma Today & Be Somebody’s Hero For Life. You could earn up to $400 a month! Program and fees vary per location. Contact your local center today. 803-736-5888. Click here for more info