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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A small group of South Carolina correctional officers is getting specialized training on dealing with mentally ill inmates.

Corrections Director Bryan Stirling told The Associated Press the weeklong training started Monday.

The sessions are provided by the National Institute of Corrections. Stirling says he hopes graduates of the pilot program can train more South Carolina officers on what they have learned.

The training and other efforts are outgrowths of a lawsuit against the department. Earlier this year, a judge sided with a group of inmates who sued the agency over alleged constitutional violations, including a lack of effective counseling and over-reliance on tactics like isolation to subdue unruly, mentally ill prisoners.

Stirling is appealing that ruling, but the parties have also been mediating over ways to correct the issues.

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