Friday, March 30, 2012

Showdown brewing between Travis judge, state health agency over competency restoration

Disappointing, but not unexpected: The State of Texas says it cannot comply with Judge Orlinda Naranjo's court order requiring state hospitals to accept pretrial defendants declared incompetent by the courts within 21 days, and also asked the judge herself to reconsider her decision, reports Andrea Ball at the Austin Statesman ("State fights order to move prisoners requiring psychiatric care into hospitals," March 29):
State officials say they can't obey a court order forcing them to move more than 150 mentally incompetent prisoners to psychiatric hospitals by June 1 because they don't have enough space, staff or money to do so.

The Texas attorney general's office has asked Austin-based state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo to review her January decision forcing the Department of State Health Services to start moving all current "forensic commitments" to state psychiatric hospitals by June 1. All such prisoners who arrive after that date would have to be moved to a psychiatric hospital within 21 days of a judge's order. Forensic patients are people accused of crimes who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness.
Complying with the court order would cost between $39 million and $55.2 million, according to a motion for a new trial filed by the attorney general's office this month.

"The short timelines set forth in the court's order makes it physically, fiscally and logistically impossible for DSHS to comply and indicates a lack of appreciation for the magnitude of the task and the complications inherent in implementing the terms of the order," the state wrote in its motion.

The attorney general has also appealed the ruling with the state's 3rd Court of Appeals.
See prior, related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

The state can pay $10,000 a month to rent a mansion for Rick Perry but can't find any money for this? Maybe someone should have just told Perry the state didn't have the money to pay for his security as he traveled around the country campaigning for president. They can always find the money to pay for the things they want to pay for. They can find the money to pay for this.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like they.din't have "an apprecaition of the magnitude" of the constitutional violation. Holding a citizen accused if a crime, pre-trial, pre-conviction, in jail for an extended period. They hold them without providing evaluation or treatment necessary to address comprtency issues. Courts in other states have been shocked by delays of a few days. In some Texas counties citipzens have been held against their eill in this legal limbo for years. Inexcusable. The ootions are to either quickly provide the evaluation and treatment ir release the oerson from jail until tou can.

Debbie Russell said...

It costs $260,000 to $366,000 to provide care for one mentally ill person? Really? It costs $22,000/year to house a person in jail and costs $55,000/year for substance abuse patients, so I'm not buying that number.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Amen 9:37 Amen,
Every competent person in the State of Texas knows full well that the jails and prisons in this State have long been used to having enough friends in the Lege, The Courts, and Local politics to keep people with actual brains from interfering with their plans. Texas has, and I believe continues to build jails and prisons, while cutting funding for MHMR treatment and bed space. I feel no pity for these people coming back to the Judge with their whiny little cries of "We cant, There's no money, What shall we ever do". There is money, they just don't want it to come from the millions they shuffle amongst themselves and dole out to each other in the name of retirement and much needed program improvements which necessitate larger salaries and bigger staff for these fat cat, State, County and Local Cronies who are draining these coffers dry and continually begging for more money to run their terribly overcrowded jails and prisons. Harris County charges people with Felony Possession of a controlled substance for paraphernalia, Oh the dangerous criminal they have there. They have a six story jail on Baker street that is completely filled with medical inmates, MANY of whom need to be placed in Mental Health facilities due to their inability take care of themselves, their commissary money (Mostly taken by other inmates) ETC ETC ETC ...... the list goes on and on and the sad part is most of us know it and refuse to say or do anything about it. This is no longer The Great State of Texas I was born in and I am greatly saddened by that fact, greatly saddened.

Anonymous said...

When will government concentrate on their needs instead of their wants????