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Illinois to build $150M prison mental-health unit

JOLIET, Ill. — Illinois corrections officials have announced construction will begin next spring on a 200-bed inpatient mental health and medical facility.

The Joliet Treatment Center will be 180,000 square feet (16,700 square meters). Officials announced Tuesday it will cost $150 million and serve both men and women. It will employ more than 400, including physicians, nurse practitioners and psychologists.

The Illinois Department of Corrections settled a lawsuit in 2016 that requires prison officials to provide adequate health services to about 12,000 inmates who suffer from mental illness. The lawsuit was filed in 2007 after severe funding cuts.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the corrections department is working to improve services and to make sure staff members are trained to understand mental illness and to recognize the distress it causes inmates.