Mentally ill man stole $86 from a Verizon store, ended up killing himself in solitary

Amir Hall (Photo courtesy of Tiffany Adams).

"Amir Hall (or Mir, as his family calls him) was originally arrested in October 2007, for the unarmed robbery of a Verizon store. He made off with $86."

Amir ended up imprisoned in solitary confinement, and eventually hanged himself in his cell.

ProPublica looks at the plight of mentally ill persons who end up stuck in solitary:

Shaleah Hall, Amir's sister, has 'In Loving Memory of Amir' tattooed in a curling ribbon on her right bicep.

Multiple studies have shown that isolation can damage inmates' minds, particularly those already struggling with mental illness. In recent years, New York state has led the way in implementing policies to protect troubled inmates from the trauma of solitary confinement.

A 2007 federal court order required New York to provide inmates with "serious" mental illness more treatment while in solitary. And a follow-up law enacted in 2011 all but bans such inmates from being put there altogether.

But something odd has happened: Since protections were first added, the number of inmates diagnosed with severe mental illness has dropped. The number of inmates diagnosed with "serious" mental illness is down 33 percent since 2007, compared to a 13 percent decrease in the state's prison population.

"New York Promised Help for Mentally Ill Inmates – But Still Sticks Many in Solitary" []