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Aug 16, 2013 8:52 AM by AP

DOJ, St. Tammany agree on improved jail conditions

COVINGTON, La. (AP) - The federal government and St. Tammany Parish have reached an agreement on improved conditions at the parish jail that include changes in its mental health treatment for prisoners and how they house suicidal inmates.

The U.S. Department of Justice began investigating jail operations in April 2011. The review came after the American Civil Liberties Union published a report saying that holding prisoners in "squirrel cages" was cruel and unusual punishment.

The department released its findings in July 2012, saying certain conditions at the parish jail violated prisoners' constitutional rights to adequate health care, including adequate suicide prevention.

In Thursday's agreement, the Justice Department praised parish officials for making changes, many of which Sheriff Jack Strain said were in place or pending when the department's findings were released last year.

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