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Inmate suicides bring attention to South Carolina’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners

A class-action lawsuit could soon change the way an estimated 3,500 inmates with severe mental illnesses are treated in South Carolina's prison system.

The case exposed numerous stories of mentally ill inmates being gassed, locked in solitary confinement for years at a time, denied effective treatment and caged naked, alone and cold in makeshift crisis cells littered with rotten food, feces and other filth. Prison officials have argued that these were extreme "outlier" cases, troubling but anecdotal evidence that wasn't representative of the system as a whole.

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