California amends punishment policy for mentally ill inmates

Apr 3, 2015 5:56 PM by News Staff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California prison officials are changing state policy so mentally ill inmates who act out may get more counseling instead of being automatically sent to isolation cells.

A federal judge ruled a year ago that the state's treatment of mentally ill inmates violates their constitutional rights in part because their illness isn't taken into account when they are disciplined.

The new policy, filed Friday in Sacramento federal court, will avoid punishment under certain circumstances when inmates misbehave due to mental illness. Officials say they may get more treatment instead of being cited for rules violations and sent to solitary confinement. That can worsen their mental illness.

An attorney who represents mentally ill inmates says the new policy is also good for taxpayers. Michael Bien says keeping inmates in segregation is expensive.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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