Case: Out-of-court Memorandum of Understanding Between the Oregon Department of Corrections and Disability Rights Oregon

NA | No Court

Filed Date: 2016

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In May 2015, Disability Rights Oregon, a non-profit organization, released the results of an investigation about the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at the Oregon State Penitentiary. In the report, the DRO concluded that adults in custody at the BHU were routinely isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day without timely access to mental health care and that mental-health related behaviors were often dealt with through unnecessary force for lack of more proactive responses.As a response to the DRO…

In May 2015, Disability Rights Oregon, a non-profit organization, released the results of an investigation about the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at the Oregon State Penitentiary. In the report, the DRO concluded that adults in custody at the BHU were routinely isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day without timely access to mental health care and that mental-health related behaviors were often dealt with through unnecessary force for lack of more proactive responses.

As a response to the DRO's report, the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) conducted a comprehensive review of BHU that included consultation with a nationally-recognized expert. Following that review, DOC and DRO engaged in discussions about improvements to BHU, which were incorporated into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or an unofficial but public agreement.

ODOC and DRO signed the MOU on January 8, 2016.

The MOU, among many things, provided for over 20 hours of guaranteed time a week out of their cells for those held in the BHU. Ten hours of this time would include classes and treatment programs, and ten hours would be unstructured, allowing for out-of-cell meals, phone calls and physical exercise. Other key components of the agreement included making good-faith efforts to hire and retain “sufficient” mental health staff, ensuring “reasonable access to a psychiatric provider,” and improving training of security and clinical staff to deal “with adults in custody with mental illness, including interviewing techniques, medication side effects, and crisis intervention.” [Document 1 in the Clearinghouse]

ODOC also committed to provide DRO with periodic reports regarding the data in the BHU, such as unusual incident reports, disciplinary reports, frequency of group therapy sessions, suicide watches and serious self-injurious behavior, and more.

After reviewing the period reports, DROC agreed to contact ODOC and the Oregon Department of Justice to explore the collaborative development of an improvement plan if the ODOC’s plan is failing to produce the desired effect.

The agreement provided for 48 of review by DROC, with the memorandum ending in January of 2018.

Summary Authors

Susie Choi (2/8/2017)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Oregon

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2016

Closing Date: 2018

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Disability Rights Oregon

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Oregon, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: 0

Order Duration: 2016 - 2018

Content of Injunction:

Hire

Monitoring

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Preliminary relief granted

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Required disclosure

Training

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Excessive force

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Intellectual/Developmental Disability

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Self-injurious behaviors

Suicide prevention

Type of Facility:

Government-run