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Washington Accrues Nearly $7.5 Million in Contempt Fines for Failing Mentally Ill

SEATTLE (AP) — The state of Washington has accrued fines of about $7.5 million for failing to provide competency services to mentally ill people who must wait in jails for weeks or months.

The federal judge who imposed the fines issued an order on Tuesday saying the state must pay the outstanding balance of $2.3 million.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman issued an order last year saying the Washington Department of Social and Health Services is violating the constitutional rights of jail inmates who are forced to wait for competency evaluations or treatment to have their competency restored.

She gave the state until last January to fix the problem, but people are still waiting for extended periods for those services.

In July, Pechman found the state in contempt of her order and issued fines.

Those fines reached $7,486,550 by Dec. 14.

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