Lawsuit: Bad mental health care led to SC prison stranglings

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Families of two of the four inmates strangled in a South Carolina prison cell last April are suing the state, saying the prison provided woefully inadequate mental health care.

The lawsuits filed by relatives of 56-year-old Jimmy Ham and 35-year-old Jason Kelley say counselors often announced a prisoner’s mental health diagnosis in front of other inmates to embarrass them.

The lawsuit also says counselors used checklists not approved by a psychiatrist instead of having conversations with prisoners.

Inmates Denver Simmons and Jacob Philip are charged with murder in the deaths of the four inmates.

Simmons told the Associated Press they lured the inmates into their cells individually and killed them so they could get the death penalty.

The Corrections Department says it doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.

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