Prisons and Jails


DRI will focus on the following areas:

Reducing abuse and neglect of inmates with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries in prisons and county jails.

 Why is this important? Individuals with disabilities are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Once incarcerated these individuals are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, such as excessive uses of force, denial of access to necessary treatment, or housing in long term segregation.

Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Monitor prisons and jails to detect abuse, neglect, or systemic issues affecting inmates with
  • Investigate, provide individual advocacy, or provide other appropriate assistance including representation or systemic advocacy to prevent or end abuse and neglect of prisoners.
  • Conduct systemic research regarding restrictive housing of inmates with mental illness in the Department of Corrections, and collaborate with stakeholders to affect systemic change.
  • Conduct individual investigations into allegations of denial of access to legally required mental health care and medications, and provide advocacy to ensure provision of these services.
  • Conduct individual investigations into suspicious deaths in prisons and county jails.
  • Collaborate with the Iowa Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation to provide seizure response training to correctional officers.

Increasing the number of reasonable accommodations or modifications of policies and procedures for inmates with disabilities in prisons and county jails.

 Why is this important? Inmates with disabilities who are incarcerated should not suffer harsher conditions of incarceration simply as a result of their disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act embodies a national policy of nondiscrimination against individuals with disabilities and applies to prisons and jails, requiring that qualified inmates with disabilities be afforded reasonable accommodations and modifications to policies and procedures.

 Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Provide individual advocacy to obtain accommodations for inmates denied access to prison programs and services as a result of physical inaccessibility or denial of reasonable assistive devices.
  • Monitor prisons and jails to ensure physical
  • Increase staff knowledge of physical accessibility standards for prisons and jails.