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.
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.
$7 Special Summer Menu at Tony’s Downtown
Stop in and try our special $7 summer menu (tax and drink included!) at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, downtown Columbia. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2.
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.
The Castle Summer Camps
Clown Camp: Ages 7-12. Week of July 28 • Zombie Camp: Ages 10-15. Week of August 4. $125 per camp, discounts for siblings! 2076 Hwy Church Rd. 803-309-5586. TheEventCastle@yahoo.com
Make your own beer and wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop, 736 St. Andrews Road. Click to find out how!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18: