California prisons change mental health treatment

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California prison officials are pledging to take a more gentle approach with mentally ill inmates after graphic images of prisoners being repeatedly doused with pepper spray in their cells were made public.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says in a federal court filing Friday that its policy changes will create a "system-wide culture change" in how 33,000 mentally ill offenders are restrained and isolated.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled in April that California's treatment of mentally ill inmates violates their constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment.

He acted after graphic video tapes made by correctional officers were released, showing guards throwing chemical grenades and pumping large amounts of pepper spray into the cells of mentally ill inmates. Some of them were screaming and delirious.

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