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By Tim Smith, The Greenville News

COLUMBIA - The state's prison chief says he wants to open mediation talks over the agency's handling of mentally ill inmates in the wake of last month's ruling by a state judge against the prison system.

Previous Coverage: Prison system appealing mental health ruling | Judge rebukes state's prisoner mental health treatment

Bryan Stirling, who went before the Senate Corrections CommitteeThursday morning as part of his confirmation process, said he wants to put the agency's appeal on hold so he can meet with the plaintiffs and try mediation again.

The suit was filed in 2005 and tried under Stirling's predecessor.

Circuit Judge Michael Baxley ruled last month that the prison system had violated the rights of inmates with serious mentally ill and that some inmates had been died.

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