Deadline Here for Mental Health Case

July 1, 2003 - Posted at: 9:12 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Tuesday's the deadline for the state to comply with a settlement reached in court over care for inmates with mental illness.

And attorneys who sued over the matter say Arkansas officials are following that agreement.

The Arkansas American Civil Liberties Union sued the state Department of Human Services in 2001. Last year, federal Judge Stephen Reasoner said the state must improve mental health services for inmates.

In January, Reasoner approved a settlement. It obligates the State Hospital to carry out a mental evaluation of a prisoner within 30 days of a judge's order. The hospital also has added beds and received money to hire extra staff and make other changes. Some inmates had experienced prolonged waits, sometimes up to a year, for evaluations and mental health treatment.

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