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Prisoner advocates seek overhaul of inmate mental health treatment

By Shira Schoenberg

Commonwealth Magazine

Seven months after the Department of Justice issued a scathing report about the treatment of inmates with mental illness in Massachusetts prisons, advocates for prisoners and people with mental illness are urging the Legislature to overhaul the way mental health treatment is provided to incarcerated people.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, and Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley, a Boston Democrat, which had a hearing Monday before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery, would institute changes at both state prisons and county jails and would require that many prisoners in crisis be moved out of jails into health care facilities. Eldridge said he filed the bill as a direct result of the Department of Justice report.

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