Steve Clouse

Fixing care for mentally ill inmates could cost millions

Alabama will have to make significant and costly changes in the treatment of mentally ill prisoners now that a federal judge has found their care to be unconstitutionally cruel, a state lawmaker said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in the Tuesday ruling ordered the state to improve conditions, something that lawyers and lawmakers said will cost the state.

"We are going to have to increase capacity and we are going to have to provide more mental health services to comply with his order," said state Sen. Cam Ward, who has tried in vain to persuade fellow lawmakers to build new prisons. "Either you are going to spend more or you are going to release...