Pubdate: Sun, 25 Dec 2016
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2016 The Hartford Courant
Author: Pat Eaton-Robb


Should Connecticut compensate a prison inmate who was injected with
psychotropic drugs against his will? A trial set for January, in which
the inmate is representing himself, will decide.

The inmate, Kacey Lewis, was taken from his cell, shackled and subdued
with pepper spray for some of the 42 injections he received from the
medical staff at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers,
according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant found the prison staff violated
Lewis' rights to due process and ordered the civil trial, scheduled
for the first week of January, to determine whether he is entitled to
financial damages or other relief. The trial also will determine
whether medical staff violated Lewis' rights against cruel and unusual
punishment by being deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and
through the suffering caused by the injections.

Lewis, who is acting as his own attorney, has been imprisoned since
2009 on a 15-year sentence for the assault and kidnapping of his girlfriend.

A panel made up of the three doctors at the Northern Correctional
Institution determined after a hearing 2011 that the drugs were needed
to treat a mental health condition they had diagnosed.

In a letter to The Associated Press, Lewis insisted that he is not
mentally ill and that the doctors "used false information and a bogus
diagnosis to rationalize and justify" forcing him to be medicated.

An advocate was appointed to represent Lewis' interests at the 2011
hearing. But that advocate, Dr. Mark Frayne, was the supervising
psychologist who had been treating Lewis at the prison, and was on the
three-person panel that recommended his the injections. Frayne later
presided over and denied Lewis' appeal of the ruling, according to
court documents.

Bryant ruled that was a conflict of interest that denied Lewis his
14th Amendment rights to due process.

"There is no evidence Defendant Frayne actually advocated on behalf of
Plaintiff Lewis's opposition to involuntary medication at the hearing,
nor is there any evidence that Defendant Frayne made any effort prior
to the hearing to investigate any basis, or fashion any rationale, to
support Lewis's objection to being forcibly medicated," Bryant wrote.

Frayne did not respond to messages seeking comment. The state
Department of Correction referred all comment to the University of
Connecticut and its Correctional Managed Health Care department, which
oversees the medical treatment in the prisons.

A UConn Health spokeswoman said the school would not comment on the
pending litigation.

Dan Barrett, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union
of Connecticut, said it is not involved in the case, but is monitoring
it because it has concerns over whether the due process rights of
other inmates are being violated when it comes to decisions about
their mental health.

"The kinds of things he raises, appropriate treatment of mental health
crises, are things we also see in cases, for example of solitary
confinement," he said. "So the idea that we'll have some type of
public airing of mental health care in prison is a good thing."
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