Arkansas Policy: Mentally Ill Inmates Can't Be Confined in Stark, Small Cells

April 22, 2006 - Posted at 1:10 p.m. CST

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) _ The state prison board has approved a

policy against confining mentally ill inmates in small

``sensory-deprived'' cells that could worsen their mental

condition.

The Board of Correction approved the regulation after several

inmates at a high-security prison in Lincoln County were removed

from seven-by-eleven foot cells on the advice of a prison

psychiatrist.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the inmates had been

kept in the stark furnishings for at least 23 hours a day because

there were no secure prison beds elsewhere in the system.

Wendy Kelley, the prison system's chief mental health official,

says the new policy prohibits actions that would worsen a mentally

ill inmate's condition. If the prisoner needs to be disciplined,

the punishment must not worsen that person's mental condition.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)