Judge To Decide Treatment Of Calif. Mentally Ill Inmates

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge is set to decide whether the heavy use of pepper spray by state prison guards against mentally ill inmates violates prisoners’ civil rights.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton was hearing closing arguments in the case Thursday.

The trial in federal court in Sacramento featured the airing of a half-dozen videos that showed pepper spray used multiple times on screaming inmates who refused to leave their cells.

State corrections officials said last month that they will change their rules to limit how much pepper spray can be used.

The dispute is the latest chapter in a 23-year-old lawsuit that has helped prompt sweeping changes in the prison system, including a sharp reduction in inmate overcrowding.

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