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State

Deal reached in lawsuit on mentally ill inmates

CHICAGO – Lawyers representing 11,000 mentally ill Illinois prisoners have reached a settlement with the state in a 2007 class-action lawsuit alleging that substandard treatment constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Filings this week notified a federal judge in Peoria about the deal. It still requires court approval.

A Wednesday email to The Associated Press from plaintiffs’ attorneys said the agreement will ensure mentally ill inmates get better access to care and will reduce the time they spend in solitary.

It calls for the Illinois Department of Corrections to build four new treatment units, including at the Pontiac and Dixon prisons. The statement said construction will cost around $40 million.

One Chicago-based plaintiffs’ attorney, Harold Hirshman, calls the deal a “monumental settlement that will have a lasting impact.”

An IDOC spokeswoman didn’t have an immediate comment.

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