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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania wants the state prison system to reinstate inmate mail and visitation privileges that have been suspended because about 50 guards and other employees have fallen sick in recent weeks.

Pennsylvania ACLU executive director Reggie Shuford said Tuesday that the lockdown in place over the past week is “gravely serious.”

He argues that state officials should provide more information to the public.

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Shuford says if staff are getting sick, inmates likely are, too.

Officials suspect smuggled synthetic marijuana is to blame.

A prison system spokeswoman says officials are checking out “a small number” of reports of sickened inmates.

Inmates have been allowed access to showers and phones and limited time outside their cells in recent days.

Officials hope to lift the lockdown early next week.

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