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Judge sets prison deadline on mentally ill inmates

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge presiding in a lawsuit involving mental health treatment in Alabama prisons is giving officials until Friday to move mentally ill inmates who’ve been held too long in single-person cells.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued the order Thursday following a hearing where inmate attorneys argued that mentally ill prisoners are being held too long in solitary.

The Southern Poverty Law Center contends spot checks found at least 150 prisoners with serious mental illness in solitary despite a court order. Thompson’s ruling concentrates on about 20 inmates, but inmate lawyers say the number could be higher.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit where inmates are suing the state over medical treatment.

The Department of Corrections says it already has moved some inmates and has presented the judge a plan to remove others.

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