A former inmate at an Illinois super-maximum prison is alleging "cruel and unusual" punishment in his lawsuit against the prison and his former psychiatrist, Dr Rakesh Chandra. In the case being heard before a federal jury, 35-year old Anthony Gay is claiming lingering trauma from the psychiatric treatment that he received from Dr. Chandra at Tamms Correctional Center. The treatment often involved his being strapped naked to a metal bed frame for up to 32 hours at a time. Gay is claiming that the abuse that he received is causing him to self-mutilate various parts of his body. He maintains that he should have been treated with medication and therapy instead of the restrictive treatment that Dr. Chandra ordered. Dr. Chandra and other staff have testified that Gay's clothing was removed to prevent him from hurting himself and that he often engaged in self-harm to manipulate staff members.
Gay, who was initially sentenced in 1993 to seven years for robbery, later incurred nineteen other charges for various offenses including assaulting officers and possession of a weapon. He is eligible for parole in 2095.
Tamms Correctional Center is a 500-bed maximum security facility designed to house extremely violent and/or disruptive inmates. Opened in 1998, the prison was designed to meet constitutional challenges that have been faced in other jurisdictions, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Inmates are locked down twenty-three hours a day, only move when shackled, and kept segregated from other inmates during recreation. The use of solitary confinement in dealing with mentally ill prisoners has been cited as a human rights abuse by U.S. legislators such as Senator Dick Durbin. In a recent meeting, Senator Durbin stated that, ""While in prison, many mentally ill prisoners have limited or no access to mental health services and their conditions deteriorate."
The case is proceeding. Governor Pat Quinn has ordered a review of the prison and its controversial restraint policy while state lawmakers are contemplating a prison reform bill.