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October 8, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Federal judge denies order for mentally ill in Washington jails

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A federal judge says she does not have enough information to grant a temporary restraining order that would make sweeping changes to Washington’s mental health system.

But U.S. District Chief Judge Marsha Pechman told lawyers at a Wednesday hearing that she sees serious constitutional concerns in the way the state handles mentally ill people who sit in jails for extended periods awaiting competency evaluations and treatment. She says she could quickly take the issue to trial instead.

Lawyers for disability rights groups and the ACLU filed the temporary restraining order request Friday asking the court to force the state to cut the wait lists and provide treatment for inmates found to be incompetent to help with their defense. But a state lawyer said they needed time to find remedies.

Pechman gave them until Oct. 27 to decide how to proceed.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: ACLU, mental health, U.S. District Court

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