Resource: Seth v. District of Columbia

By: The Arc

July 24, 2019

The Arc

This lawsuit challenges the indefinite incarceration of Markelle Seth, a young man with intellectual disability languishing in federal prison despite not having been convicted of a crime in violation of his right under state and federal law to receive services and treatment in the most integrated setting appropriate to his needs. Mr. Seth, after having been found by the court to be incompetent to stand trial, has been held in federal prison rather than a community-based program in D.C., where he is from and where his family and support system reside. Despite the fact that the District’s Department on Disability Services’ experts concluded that Mr. Seth was not a predator and could be served in the community with an array of services and supports without posing a danger to himself or others, the District has refused to assume responsibility for Mr. Seth in violation of the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Because of the District’s inaction, Mr. Seth has been left to languish in federal prison for years, where he is often cited for violations of the rules, such as not removing his headphones quickly enough, disagreeing with other inmates about what television channel to watch, or not tucking in his shirt. As a result, he has spent much of his time in solitary confinement, which is both nontherapeutic and harmful to people with intellectual disability. His “therapy” has consisted of, for example, petting a dog through a slot in his solitary confinement cell.