State appeals court’s order for timely competency evaluations

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SEATTLE (AP) — The state of Washington is appealing a portion of a federal judge’s ruling that sought to ensure timely competency services for mentally ill defendants.

Health officials say they are appealing the portion that mandates competency evaluations within seven days of a judge’s order. They said one week was not enough time to allow some defendants who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to stabilize.

The federal lawsuit was filed by mentally ill criminal defendants who were forced to wait weeks in jails for competency evaluations. A federal judge ruled in favor of the defendants.

As of June 5, there were 195 people on the waitlist for competency services at Western State Hospital. Another 168 people were waiting to get into Eastern State Hospital for evaluations or treatment.

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