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There Are Still Not Enough Beds For Prisoners With Mental Illness

Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)
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Illinois Department of Corrections officials say they still do not know when they will have enough beds to care for prisoners with mental illnesses. Patrick Smith has more.

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Credit Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)
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  Illinois Department of Corrections officials say they still do not know when they will have enough beds to care for prisoners with mental illnesses.

The prison system has been in a legal battle over mental health care since 2007.

Late last year the state submitted a remedial plan to a federal judge, but prisoners suing say the department isn’t following it.

In a new court filing, the state says it still doesn’t know when all 12 hundred beds required will be added.

Jennifer Vollen Katz is with prison watchdog The John Howard Association.

“I mean, it’s disappointing for those of us that want to see change more quickly, but the number of bureaucratic and administrative hoops that are typical of a lot of construction projects are really magnified in a corrections setting,” Vollen Katz said.

Vollen Katz says she saw prisons being prepared for renovation in recent monitoring visits.

Copyright 2015 WNIJ Northern Public Radio

Patrick Smith is a producer for WBEZ. He produces All Things Considered and reports on politics and criminal justice. Patrick joined WBEZ as an intern in 2013 and never left.