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California judge orders improved care for mentally ill death row inmates

Prison Suicide - 3

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

An inmate is escorted from the new mental health treatment unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates opened on Thursday as state corrections officials used the occasion to push for ending federal oversight of that aspect of prison operations. The 44,000-square-foot building includes rooms where inmates will undergo individual, group and recreational outpatient therapy. It will be used to treat inmates who are seriously mentally ill but are able to function without around-the-clock care.

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the state to come up with a plan to provide long term psychiatric care to mentally ill prisoners on death row. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton called the current level of care inadequate.

For more on this, we caught up with reporter Paige St. John of the LA Times. 

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