Class Action Litigation in Correctional Psychiatry
J. L. Metzner,
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
30(1): 19-29, 2002.
Class action litigation has been instrumental in jail and prison reform during the past
two decades. Correctional mental health systems have significantly benefited from such litigation.
Forensic psychiatrists have been crucial in the litigation process and the subsequent evolution of
correctional mental health care systems. This article summarizes information concerning basic
demographics of correctional populations and costs of correctional health care and provides a brief
history of such litigation. The role of psychiatric experts, with particular reference to standards of
care, is described. Specifically discussed are issues relevant to suicide prevention, the prevalence of
mentally ill inmates in supermax prisons, and discharge planning.