Improving Conditions for Mentally Ill Inmates

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By Rochelle Dean

(WOLO) COLUMBIA, S.C. --

Civil liberties and mental health advocates say the South Carolina Department of Corrections shouldn't challenge a court order that the agency come up with a plan to better deal with its mentally ill inmates, agreeing with the judge that more proceedings just mean more taxpayer dollars spent in court and not on inmate care.

But, almost a decade into the litigation, prisons officials say they're sticking with their decision to appeal _ while continuing to work on ways to improve conditions.

Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Michael Baxley sided with a group of mentally ill inmates who sued the agency in 2005 over alleged constitutional violations. Among their complaints was a lack of effective counseling and overreliance on tactics like isolation and pepper spray to subdue unruly, mentally ill prisoners.

(Soucre: Associated Press)

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