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Indiana News

Lawsuit: Indiana not adequately providing services to those incompetent to stand trial

Seth Tackett
/
WTIU
A new lawsuit argues that the state’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction has “grossly inefficient capacity” to get people determined to be incompetent to stand trial the services they need. That means those defendants must sit in county jails without access to necessary treatment, sometimes for months.

Indiana is being sued over allegations it’s letting people who need mental health treatment sit in jail rather than get court-ordered services.

A lawsuit was brought by the ACLU of Indiana and the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission.

When a person is found to be incompetent to stand trial, the state is required to provide what are known as "competency restoration services." Those are often provided at state psychiatric hospitals.

A new lawsuit argues that the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction has “grossly inefficient capacity” to get people the services they need. That means those defendants must sit in county jails without access to necessary treatment, sometimes for months.

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The court filing alleges that in Marion County alone, the average time spent in jail awaiting transfer to a treatment facility is about 121 days.

Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said the state is not only violating the law but also doing immense harm to people’s health.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the state to put prisoners in need of treatment into the proper facilities.

Indiana did announce a series of pilot programs in 2020 aimed at providing more alternatives to state psychiatric hospitals for competency restoration services. Those include jails, the community and private inpatient psychiatric settings.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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