Judge: SC agency must improve inmate mental health

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A judge has ruled that South Carolina’s prison system is failing to care for its mentally ill inmates.

Circuit Judge Michael Baxley said in a ruling issued Wednesday that systemic changes are needed at the Department of Corrections needs to fix the problem.

Nearly two years ago, Baxley presided over arguments raised by a nonprofit group called Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities. The group sued the Corrections Department in 2005 on behalf of several mentally ill inmates, one of whom suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and said he was kept for years in an isolation cell.

Corrections officials disputed the claims at trial, denying that any inmates’ constitutional rights were violated. An agency spokesman did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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