Judge holding trial on inmate suicides

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — After 15 inmates killed themselves within 15 months, a federal judge is weighing whether the Alabama prison system is doing enough to prevent suicides.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson began a mini-trial Thursday.

Attorneys for prisoners are asking Thompson to order changes in how inmates are monitored and evaluated.

Alabama disputed assertions it has been “indifferent” to inmates and said it has proposed a comprehensive plan to reduce suicide risk.

The proceedings are expected to last several days.

During testimony, Thompson asked about an evaluation form that cleared an inmate to return to an isolated setting despite flagged suicide risks. The inmate later killed himself.

Thompson says the way the form was filled out was “awful, isn’t it.”

Thompson in 2017 ruled state prisons provided “horrendously inadequate” mental health care.

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