The Mentally Retarded Offenders Program of the Texas Department of Corrections

Published date01 April 1986
Date01 April 1986
DOI10.1177/003288558606600106
Subject MatterArticles
39
The
Mentally
Retarded
Offenders
Program
of
the
Texas
Department
of
Corrections
Michael
Pugh
with
an
Introduction
by
Mark
Kunkel*
*Michael
Pugh
is
compliance
coordinator,
Health
Services
Division,
Texas
Department
of
Corrections.
Mark
Kunkel
is
administrative
assistant,
Office
of
the
Special
Master,
U.S.
District
Court
for the
Southern
District
of
Texas.
Introduction
On
December
12,
1981,
after
159
days
of
a
trial
that
lasted
longer
than
any
other
prison
case,
after
349
witnesses
had
testi-
fied
and
1,565
exhibits
were
received
into
evidence,
U.S.
District
Judge William
Wayne
Justice
issued
a
118-page opinion
in
the civil
action,
Roiz
v.
Estelle.
After
describing
conditions
and
practices
in
the
Texas
Department
of
Corrections
(TDC),
then
the
largest
state
prison
system
in
the
country,
the
Court
concluded
that
&dquo;con-
stitutional
infirmities
pervade
the
TDC
prison
system&dquo;
(503
F.
Supp.
1391
[ 1980] ).
With
respect
to
mentally
retarded
inmates,
the
Court
concluded
that
by
not
recognizing
the
special
habilitation
needs
of
such
inmates,
the
TDC
failed
to
meet
its
constitutional
obligation
to
provide
minimally
adequate
conditions
of
confinement.
With
the
entry
of
the
Court’s
opinion,
attorneys
for
the
TDC
and
the
plaintiff
class
of
TDC
inmates
were
given
the
opportunity
to
reach
agreement
on
specific
plans
to
remedy
the
prison
system’s
unconstitutional
conditions
and
practices.
The
parties
entered
into
a
proposed
consent
decree
in
which
they
agreed
on
provisions
con-
cerning,
among
other
things,
conditions
of
confinement
of
&dquo;special
needs
inmates,&dquo;
including
the
mentally
retarded.
The
Consent
Decree,
approved
by
the
Court
on
April
20,
1981,
required
that
the
TDC
provide
all
special
needs
inmates
with
adequate
medical
care,
adequate
living
facilities
and
working
con-
ditions,
fair
discipline,
and
protection
from
other
prisoners.
The
TDC
was
required
to
prepare
a
plan
that
would
include
a
system
for
adequately
identifying
special
needs
inmates,
evaluating
their
needs,
and
developing
individualized
treatment
plans
appropri-
ate
for
their
needs,
along
with
assurances
for
their
implementa-
tion.
The
Consent
Decree
actually
contemplated
a
single
plan
ad-
dressing
the
needs
of
all
special
needs
inmates,
including
the
men-
tally
retarded,
the
physically
handicapped,
the
developmentally

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