Treatment changes in store for mentally ill sex offenders in Washington

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state has agreed to make changes to how it treats civilly committed sex offenders who have serious mental illness or intellectual disabilities.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Wednesday show that the agreement followed an investigation by Disability Rights Washington, an organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

The investigation found that mentally disabled residents of Washington’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island were unable to engage in treatment and often housed in harsh confinement conditions.

The state agreed to enter settlement negotiations and has agreed to create individual treatment plans for at least 17 residents deemed mentally disabled, to provide them with adequate clinical care, and to use seclusion and restraints only as a last resort.

Under the terms, which must be approved by a federal judge, the state will pay nearly $246,000 in legal expenses to Disability Rights Washington and the Seattle law firm of Carney Gillespie Isitt, as well as $42,000 a year for future monitoring of the changes.