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      Sides could soon sit down over SC inmate issues

      By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Next week may offer a chance to begin working out fixes for the care of mentally ill South Carolina inmates.

      Corrections Director Bryan Stirling says Tuesday in a letter to advocates for inmates suing the agency that he is willing to meet Feb. 24 to begin talks on how to deal with court-ordered repairs.

      Earlier this year, a judge ruled that the state's prisons need to fix issues in the care of mentally ill inmates, giving the agency six months to come up with a plan.

      The two sides have sent letters back and forth over possibly sitting down to discuss what's next in the litigation that began nearly a decade ago.

      Stirling wants both sides to reopen formal mediation. Advocates say they'd rather sit down more informally.

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      Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

      Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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