Judge orders Alaska to stop jailing mentally ill people

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A judge has ruled Alaska must end the practice of detaining mentally ill people in jails when the Alaska Psychiatric Institute is unable to provide treatment.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday that the ruling orders the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to come up with a plan by Dec. 5 to stop the practice, with a few narrow exceptions.

The ruling issued Monday by Anchorage Superior Court Judge William Morse gives the state 90 days after the December deadline to enact the plan.

The order says dozens of mentally ill Alaskans have been held in windowless prison cells, shackled, and forced to sleep on concrete slabs.

The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by the Disability Law Center of Alaska and the Public Defender Agency.

Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com