Corrections Department will improve care for mentally ill

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Corrections says it will reduce isolation and improve care for inmates with serious mental illness.

Officials on Wednesday said they have entered into an agreement with the Disability Rights Oregon effective this month. The agreement follows an investigation by the group into the behavioral health unit at the Oregon State Penitentiary, which houses adults with serious mental illness who have committed violent acts or disruptive behavior.

The investigation found inmates were routinely isolated for 23 hours a day without timely access to care; mental-health related behaviors were often dealt with through unnecessary force.

Corrections officials will now allow the inmates more out-of-cell time and will provide enhanced access to mental health services. To make the changes, the department will ask the legislature for funding.

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