Mentally Ill Men Allege 'Shocking' Isolation in Mass. Prison Hospital Lawsuit

Minich, 31, was placed in isolation for reasons that included “bothering other patients,” having seizures; yelling; licking the floor; having auditory hallucinations and other non-violent behavior, according to a separate lawsuit filed March 31 by his family.

"People say it's a hospital, but it's not a hospital. It's a prison," his mother, Joanne Minich told at the time. "I don't think they are helping him at all. It's torture."

He has since been transferred out of Bridgewater State and placed in another facility.

Among other things, the plaintiffs are asking for a complete overhaul of how isolation and restraint are administered at Bridgewater State Hospital, including the appointment of a monitor entitled to make unannounced visits to the facility and report back to the court. The plaintiffs also want to be transferred to a therapeutic facility not run by the DOC.

They have also asked the court to issue a permanent injunction against transferring any mentally ill individual from a DMH facility to Bridgewater, unless they have been convicted of a crime.

“It’s just unbelievable,” lawyer MacLeish said of the treatment of the mentally ill. “There are patients like this all over the country who would go to group care facilities run by the department of development services. They deal with people with behavior management problems and intellectual disabilities.

“The governor has been aware of this for months, if not years, and nothing is being done,” he said. “It is definitely in our social contract to provide services for our more vulnerable people.”

Rachael Dane Neff, a spokeswoman for the Gov. Deval Patrick, said today he "had been clear that seclusion and restraint should only be used for the most exceptional situations, and only as a measure of last resort to keep individuals from harming themselves or others. We are committed to ensuring individuals suffering from mental illness are provided the appropriate treatment in the appropriate settings.”

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