Solitary Confinement and the Mentally Ill

Dianne Frazee-Walker

After a major set-back the Colorado prison system is back on track.  Image courtesy www.upress.umn.edu

Before the death of Colorado Corrections director, Tom Clements, the Colorado DOC was working on reentry programs for mentally ill inmates released from solitary confinement.

Ironically, in March 2012, Evan Ebel, an inmate released directly from solitary confinement to the streets shot Mr. Clements in cold blood when he answered the door at his Colorado Springs home. Ebel was later tracked down by authorities in Texas and was fatally wounded in a police shoot out.

Sadly, Mr. Ebel targeted the wrong person upon whom to take out his anger against the correctional system because Clements was a strong advocate for changing solitary confinement policies.

Mr. Clements was a compassionate man who recognized the need for addressing the mental health issues of inmates who spent time in solitary confinement prior to release back into society. He was also dissatisfied with the number of inmates that were held in administrative segregation (aka ad seg) in Colorado Correctional facilities.

Just months shy of the one year anniversary of Clements’ death and the interruption of the progress the Colorado Correctional Department was making to solitary confinement policies, Kellie Wasko, the department’s executive director announced that “it was time to pick it back up and move on.”   

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