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Detainees with mental diseases have right to treatment: HFHR’s intervention

The HFHR has taken an intervention in the case of Daniel Boczarski* who has been serving the sentence of nine months of imprisonment. For years, he has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. However, now the effects of his treatment may be spoiled because the conditions of his detention can aggravate the disease. 
Long-lasting treatment
Daniel has attached his medical records to a letter sent to the HFHR. As follows from the documentation for over 20 years he has been a patient of the Mental Health Clinic, where, 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 2010 he received his first certificate of moderate degree of disability caused by his illness. Daniel Boczarski has many times been in therapy at psychiatric hospitals – last time a week before the beginning of his prison sentence.

Cell for high-risk prisoners
Daniel has been sentenced to 9 months in prison for preparations to falsify a document. In a remand centre, he was immediately placed in a cell for high-risk prisoners. Only after a week, Daniel was moved to a two-person cell that he shared with a man sentenced to 25 years in prison for a murder. After nearly 4 months he was moved to a single cell, in which he spends 23 hours a day. He serves his sentence in a closed regime, and prison authorities do not want to allow him to work. Nor they offer him any therapy. Furthermore, Daniel wrote in his letter to the HFHR that he does not have access to all the medicine that he had been given in the hospital.

“Through work, I could present myself as a valuable human being”
Daniel feels he is at a disadvantage because other detainees who serve longer sentences participate in open and semi-open penitentiary groups. He also asked to be moved to such a group so that he could take up work. His letter sent to the HFHR reads: “Through work, I could present myself as a valuable human being”. A long stay in his cell, as he notes, increases his level of fear, since he is locked for 23 hours. In his opinion, more frequent visits of mother would also be helpful. He adds that persons with mental disorders are “very sensitive, friendly and good people who deserve to be helped”. Daniel does not want to cause trouble but to serve his sentence in a trouble-free and safe manner that would not affect his health condition.

HFHR intervention
In a letter to the head of the remand centre, the HFHR noted that conditions in which Daniel Boczarski serves his sentence and the treatment he receives should be adjusted to his health condition. The treatment of paranoid schizophrenia should be comprehensive and cover: pharmacotherapy, psychoeducation, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and other forms of therapy. Modifying a patient’s lifestyle is also a very important element of treatment for this condition.

“We requested the head of the remand centre to provide us with information whether Daniel can be effectively treated in this facility, whether he could be moved to an open or a semi-open penitentiary group and if he may be allowed to work”, said Piotr Kubaszewski, an HFHR lawyer who handles this case.

* – name and surname have been changed


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