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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Judges: Washington in contempt in mental health case

SEATTLE – A federal judge is holding Washington state’s mental health services agency in contempt for failing to comply with her order to provide competency services to mentally ill defendants in a timely fashion.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said the Department of Social and Health Services is violating the constitutional rights of these individuals by forcing them to wait weeks or months in jail before receiving competency evaluations or treatment to restore their competency.

Last year, Pechman issued a permanent injunction that required the state to fix the problems, but on Thursday she said mentally ill people are still languishing in jails.

Pechman ordered sanctions of $500 to $1,000 per day for each person who is forced to wait more than a week for those services.

Adolfo Capestany, a spokesman for the agency, said they are consulting with their lawyers and will comment at a later time.

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