Center for Public Representation 1999
It is well-known in correctional circles that inmates with mental disorders are less likely to be granted parole. In light of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S.206 (1998), it is now established that the ADA applies to prisoners, including prisoners seeking parole. Bogovich v. Sandoval, - F.3d -, 1999 WL 669062 (9th Cir. 1999)(denial of parole based on past substance abuse history may violate the ADA). Thus, in Louraine v. Massachusetts Parole Board, (Suffolk Superior Ct., No. 96-6896)(April 30, 1999), the court struck down a Massachusetts statute that categorically denied parole eligibility to inmates confined in the state's maximum security forensic hospital on grounds that the statute discriminated against prisoners with mental illness in violation of the ADA. As a consequence of the Louraine decision, Massachusetts parole authorities are receiving special training from the Department of Mental Health and have also undertaken to ensure that individuals with substantial mental disorders receive representation at their parole hearings. The ADA may also require parole authorities to accommodate parolees with mental disorders by assisting them to obtain government benefits, find housing and employment, and obtain counseling in the community, even though parole staff do not routinely provide such services. Cf. Wakefield v. Thompson, 177 F.3d 1160 (9th Cir. 1999)(Eighth Amendment mandates that prison provide parolee with supply of prescribed psychotropic medication upon his release). The ADA does not, however, prohibit a parole board from conditioning parole upon the inmate's willingness to participate in therapy or take prescribed medication if the inmate is only likely to control his dangerous behavior with ongoing treatment.