U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Prison Mental Health Care: Dispute Resolution and Monitoring in Ohio

NCJ Number
Criminal Law Bulletin Volume: 33 Issue: 4 Dated: (July-August 1997) Pages: 299-327
F Cohen; S Aungst
Date Published
29 pages
The resolution of a class-action lawsuit brought by Ohio inmates and focusing on seriously mentally ill inmates provides guidance for similar litigation.
Dunn v. Voinovich was brought in 1993 by adult inmates with serious mental illness confined within all Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction facilities. It alleged that the mental health delivery system was deliberately indifferent to their treatment needs. Counsel for both sides agreed to place the lawsuit on the inactive trial docket and to have a group of independent experts study the system and report to them. The next steps were the study and report by the expert team, the State's development of an action plan based on the report, and negotiations about the consent decree. In July 1995 the United States District Court in Cincinnati approved a 33-page consent decree that was highly specific and followed the experts' report. The decree covers 5 years. The monitoring process has included a consultative phase and, starting in March 1996, an oversight phase. The Ohio experience suggests several principles and processes that other jurisdictions could use to more effectively implement consent decrees or other judicially enforceable remedies. These include leadership support for the change, the need for a certain shared view of the problems and the need for resolution, continuity in the agents of change, a collaborative and mutually respectful posture, and mutual effort based on common interests. Footnotes