Illinois prisons chief to lead mental health overhaul

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois’ top corrections official says an overhaul has begun of prison mental health programs following a settlement in a class-action lawsuit.

Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin tells The (Bloomington) Pantagraph (http://bit.ly/1XK6Fgi) he wants the state to be a national model. Baldwin says Gov. Bruce Rauner is committed to making funding available.

The agreement in a 2007 class-action lawsuit calls for new treatment units at the Logan, Pontiac and Dixon prisons as well as in Joliet. The cost has been estimated at $90 million, including staffing. U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm approved the settlement earlier this month.

Jennifer Vollen-Katz of the John Howard Association, a Chicago group monitoring Illinois prisons, says she is pleased with the priority Baldwin has placed on mental health since his appointment in August.

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