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.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
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U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.