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Agreement reached in suit against Mass. prisons

February 16, 2012
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BOSTON—The state prisons department and inmate advocates have reached an agreement that provides better care for prisoners with severe mental illness.

The settlement of a 2007 federal lawsuit filed against the Department of Correction by the Disability Law Center calls for the department to maintain two recently created units at high-security prisons in Shirley and Walpole as alternatives to disciplinary segregation for prisoners with mental illness.

The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/ArnsNN) reports the department has also promised to develop procedures for screening and evaluating inmates to determine whether they suffer from mental illness.

The agreement reached in December is awaiting a judge's approval.

The suit was filed after 15 inmate suicides from 2005 to 2007. The plaintiffs alleged that mentally ill prisoners were kept locked up 23 hours per day, often worsening their conditions.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe

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