Watchdog says mentally ill inmates held alone for years -

Watchdog says mentally ill inmates held alone for years

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A government watchdog says the nation's federal prisons are holding mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement for long periods of time, sometimes years.

A report out Wednesday by the Justice Department's inspector general says that practice is in spite of widespread evidence that such confinement can seriously worsen inmates' mental health.

The inspector general says that while the federal Bureau of Prisons does not recognize the term "solitary confinement," it holds some inmates alone in their cells for more than 22 hours a day. One mentally ill inmate was held in a single cell for about four years.

Prison officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The inspector general says the agency agreed with 15 recommendations, including improvements to screening, treatment and monitoring of mentally ill inmates.

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