Yakima Joins 22 Counties Suing WA For Failing Mental Help
22 counties in the state, including Yakima County are suing the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services saying state officials have failed to give people mental help at places like Eastern and Western State Hospitals.
THE COUNTIES SIMPLY WANT DSHS TO FULFILL ITS OBLIGATION
A press release says the lawsuit holds the state accountable to fulfill its obligation to evaluate and "treat patients with behavioral health conditions that could reduce further strain on a crumbling behavioral health system that the state legislature and local governments are actively working to restore."
DSHS SAYS IT'S NOT OBLIGATED TO TREAT WHEN CHARGES ARE DROPPED
The suit was filed last week in Pierce County Superior Court. The suit is based on a number of different concerns including what's called civil conversion patients. A person who was jailed but isn't competent to stand trial so charges are dropped. DSHS maintains it isn't obligated to treat or evaluate patients when criminal charges are dropped. A press release says so far DSHS won't follow what the county says are "clear statutory and court ordered legal requirements, leaving hundreds of individuals across the state to lose their chance for mental health treatment that might break the cycle of re-offense."
COUNTY OFFICIALS SAY PEOPLE NEED HELP BEFORE THEY'RE RELEASED INTO THE COMMUNITY
Yakima county officials say when charges are dropped many of the people are then released back into the community without facing "justice" and without getting any services of restoration from DSHS. In the suit filed last Wednesday counties are asking to the court to order the Department of Social and Health Services to comply with "its obligations under state law."
THE BOARD CHAIR SAYS IT'S REGRETTABLE THAT COUNTIES HAD TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION
The Yakima County Commissioner Board Chair says it's regrettable that is has come to this, but DSHS must fulfill its legal obligation to Yakima County and other counties. We simply cannot continue to have these individuals released into the community without treatment or being held accountable. It puts the individuals and our communities at risk of harm.”
The motion for preliminary injunction could be in front of a judge as early as September 8 in Pierce County Superior Court.
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