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Massachusetts prisons sued for allegedly violating rights of mentally ill

[JURIST] The Disability Law Center of Massachusetts [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) [official website] on Thursday, saying the state's treatment of mentally ill prisoners violates the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act [text]. According to the suit filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website], the state isolates mentally ill prisoners in separate units for up to 23 hours per day, causing severe psychological damage and elevating the risk of suicide. Seven Massachusetts inmates committed suicide last year, and an estimated twenty-five percent of all inmates suffer from mental illness.

The suit seeks reforms that include special training for guards and increased monitoring of mentally ill inmates by mental health experts. The DOC says it plans to follow recommendations produced from its own study [press release], which includes a Corrective Action Plan [PDF] to reduce suicides. AP has more.

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