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NY to increase mental health training for prison staff

Office of the Governor

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — All New York prison guards and other staff who have direct contact with state inmates are required to get eight hours of training annually in recognizing symptoms of poor mental health including indicators of suicide under a new state law.

The measure expands the requirement from eight hours of training for new employees.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who sponsored the law, said there were 20 suicides in state prisons in 2010, double the total the year before. The Middletown Democrat said it's important that corrections staff recognize mental health symptoms that might result in suicide, self-harm or harm to others and refer those inmates to appropriate treatment.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he signed the law since the Legislature has agreed to address needed funding and overtime to expand training.