Judge approves settlement in suit on mentally ill inmates

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PEORIA, Ill. _ A federal judge in Peoria has approved a settlement between the Illinois state prison system and lawyers for 11,000 mentally ill prisoners who alleged that inadequate treatment amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The agreement in a 2007 class-action lawsuit calls for the Illinois Department of Corrections to build four new treatment units at the Logan, Pontiac and Dixon prisons as well as in Joliet.

Those new units will cost $40 million. Hiring new staff members as part of the settlement is expected to cost another $40 million a year.

A tentative agreement in the case was reached in late December. U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm signed off on the settlement Friday, calling the state’s plans “fair and reasonable.”

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