Feds say Pa. prison misused solitary confinement

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett says it’s been working to improve the mental health system in state prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton responded Friday night to a U.S. Justice Department investigation that concluded a state prison in western Pennsylvania kept inmates with serious mental illness in solitary confinement for months or even years at a time.

McNaughton says Corbett’s Corrections secretary, John Wetzel, identified the mental health system as needing improvement early in the governor’s tenure.

She says the staff has been trained in crisis intervention for mentally ill offenders, and that a new policy will place seriously mentally ill inmates in treatment when they first enter the system, among other improvements.

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