People with mental illnesses who are in the Montana State Prison do not receive constitutionally adequate care. Disability Rights Montana sued the Montana Department of Corrections to seek relief against both the Montana DOC and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. In March 2016, the parties agreed to dismiss without prejudice the action against the Department of Health and Human Services. What remains is the action against the Department of Corrections that seeks comprehensive changes in the management, care and treatment of people incarcerated at the State Prison who suffer from serious mental illness (SMI). Among the objectives are the reform, reorganization and augmentation of mental health care for people coupled with an absolute prohibition on the use of solitary confinement for those with SMI. Our case was dismissed before trial by the district court judge. We appealed the dismissal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court decision that had dismissed the case. In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that the case describes “horrific treatment of prisoners,”and it remanded our case for further proceedings, reassigning the case to a different district court judge.



Jon Ellingson (ACLU of Montana)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Kyle Gray( Holland & Hart) Adrian Miller (Holland & Hart), Jeffrey A. Simmon (Foley & Lardner) Tammy Boggs (Foley & Lardner)

Date filed

March 31, 2014


United States District Court, District of Montana, Butte Division


Sam Haddon



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