SC prisons, advocates ink final deal on inmate mental health

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina prisons have reached an agreement with an advocacy group over how to reform the care of mentally ill inmates.

The Department of Corrections announced Wednesday it had reached a final agreement with Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities on a plan to establish benchmarks for settling a decade-old case. The settlement requires court approval.

Talks started in 2014, when a judge sided with inmates who sued in 2005. They said violations included a lack of effective counseling and too much use of isolation and force to subdue mentally ill prisoners.

The groups reached a preliminary agreement in January 2015. The agency has been making changes since the court ruling but says the final agreement lays out timelines and goals that will be supervised by independent experts.

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