Inmates with Disabilities

By: Kelly Sparks
By: Kelly Sparks

The Supreme Court agreed last week to decide if states and counties can be sued for not accommodating disabled prisoners. That decision could mean big money for governments already strapped for cash.

According to the Associated Press, the court already has held that people in state prisons are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, the justices will consider whether prisoners can sue for damages under the ADA, a law meant to ensure equal treatment for the disabled.

At the Warren County Regional Jail, in Bowling Green, they have 529 inmates. Of those, around eight or nine of them have a disability.

Warren County Jailer, Jackie Strode says a disability may include such things as crutches, a wheelchair, or someone who had surgery before coming to jail.

Strode says they have nurses at the jail 24 hours a day and a doctor that comes in at least once a week.

“Those who have special needs if that can’t be met in a normal cell, then they would be put in a medical observation cell and the nursing staff would see that their needs are met.”

According to the Associated Press, about 1.3 million people are held in state prisons and more than 700,000 are in local jails but it’s uncertain how many are disabled.

Should the court side with inmates, there could a be money crunch for states because of the costs of fixing old prisons to accommodate people with disabilities.

States have complained the law has led to unreasonable demands.

In Warren County, Strode says the inmate’s needs are met.

"Any need that they would have, if we can't address it inside the jail then we would see they are taking outside where that special medical need would be met."

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