District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has ordered the Montana Department of Corrections to refrain from placing teenage prisoner Raistlen Katka in solitary confinement.
The court also ordered Montana State Prison to refrain from imposing behavior management plans on Katka.
In his opinion, Judge Sherlock wrote that Raistlen is doing well under his current plan, and added that he is concerned that Raistlen could harm himself by attempting suicide again if he is placed once more in solitary confinement.
Since the ACLU was able to secure Raistlen's release from solitary and to get him the mental health treatment he needs, Raistlen has steadily improved. He earned his GED and is in vocational training.
The ACLU of Montana filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana and the Montana Department of Corrections in 2009 over the illegal, inhumane and degrading treatment Raistlen was subjected to in solitary confinement when he was a juvenile. That treatment exacerbated his mental illness and violated the Montana Constitution's right to human dignity.
In an Aug. 22, 2011 press release on the court order, ACLU cooperating attorney Andree Larose said: "This lawsuit is for Raistlen, but it's also for all the other adolescent and mentally ill prisoners subjected to these harsh punitive conditions... As a society, we must be concerned not only about whether treatment of inmates is humane, but also about what long-term effects such inhumane treatment has on these prisoners. When we ignore the core humanity of a prisoner, we not only violate the Montana Constitution, we make our community less safe in the long run."