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The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in federal court Friday asking that Wisconsin's largest women's prison reform the way it administers medication, calling the current system a "disaster waiting to happen."

The ACLU and the law firm Jenner & Block claim prisoners at Taycheedah Correctional Institution near Fond du Lac are forced to wait weeks for medicine, and when their medications arrive, they are often the wrong types or doses. The prison houses 700 maximum and medium security prisoners.

"The medication system at Taycheedah is a disaster waiting to happen," Gabriel Eber, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, said in a statement. "For some medications, there is not even a system of checking for dangerous interactions between drugs before a prisoner starts taking a new prescription."

John Dipko, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, issued a statement saying progress has been made in improving health care for Taycheedah inmates, "and this commitment to improved health care will continue into the future."

No hearing has been scheduled yet on the motion for preliminary injunction, but Eber said in an interview that if the judge rules in the favor of the ACLU, the prison would have to institute the changes within 60 days.

The motion was filed in U.S. District Court as part of a 2006 class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Taycheedah prisoners. The lawsuit claims the prison's medical, mental and dental care is grossly deficient and has caused its female prisoners great physical and mental suffering.

The motion asks state officials to ensure that medical prescriptions are filled quickly and accurately and administered by nurses.

Currently, correctional officers with no medical training administer medications, according to the motion. Taycheedah is one of the few state prisons in the nation that does not require nurses or trained medical personnel to administer medications.

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