State Slapped With $100 Million Fine

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( – On Friday, a federal judge ordered that Washington state would need to pay $100 million in fines over their failure to provide timely competency evaluations and resources to mentally ill people in jail.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman determined that the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services had failed to comply with the 2015 settlement agreement which set the competency evaluations and treatment to a maximum of two weeks. Pecham in her ruling pointed out that while there were various reasons why waiting times have increased, the department has not properly planned or allocated resources in order to ensure they can handle the crisis they have created.

The judge further pointed out that she was not convinced that the Department of Social and Health Services had prepared “adequately” or that they had taken the appropriate set of actions to handle the bed shortage in the state’s psychiatric hospitals.

This is not the first time that Washington has violated the 2015 settlement agreement. Court documents have revealed two other violations, which have led to the state needing to pay close to $400 million in fines.

Competency evaluations are ordered by the court in cases where there are doubts about a person’s ability to stand trial. The competency evaluations need to take place within 14 days of a court order for those who are in prison and half that time for those in state hospitals. If a person is determined to be incompetent to stand trial then the state is required to provide them with treatment within seven days.

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