Group: Montana warehouses mentally ill inmates

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A civil-rights group involved in a federal lawsuit against Montana over treatment of mentally ill inmates says it is still optimistic the issue can be resolved through negotiations.

Disability Rights Montana sued seven top officials with the state Department of Corrections and Department of Public Health and Human Services Monday over allegations cruel and unusual punishment and due process violations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana is one of the disability-rights group's legal representatives. ACLU spokeswoman Amy Cannata says negotiations are continuing with the Department of Corrections despite the lawsuit.

The group claims Montana State Hospital officials transfer mentally ill inmates to the state prison in Deer Lodge to free up hospital beds.

The lawsuit says the inmates are warehoused, mistreated and denied proper mental-health care at the prison.

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