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State Says It Can’t Move Prisoners who Are Incompetent Out of Jail Fast

Criminal Competency

Austin State Hospital

A state district judge ruled on Jan. 23, 2012, that prisoners who are found mentally incompetent to stand trial must be moved into a state mental hospital within 21 days of a judge’s order. Photo of Austin State Hospital: Wikimedia Commons.

State officials say Texas does not have the resources needed to move more than 150 prisoners who are mentally incompetent to psychiatric hospitals by June 1, in keeping with a court order.

A state district judge ruled on Jan. 23, 2012, that prisoners who are found mentally incompetent to stand trial must be moved into a state mental hospital within 21 days of a judge’s order. The judge said keeping the prisoners in jail up to six months before moving them violates their constitutional rights.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office asked the district judge to review her decision in the 2007 lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Texas. The Texas Attorney General’s Office also appealed the ruling with the Texas Third Court of Appeals stating that, “The short timelines set forth in the court’s order makes it physically, fiscally, and logistically impossible for (the Department of State Health Services) to comply and indicates a lack of appreciation for the magnitude of the task and the complications inherent in implementing the order,” Compliance is expected to cost $39 million to $55.2 million.

Read more information on the Austin American-Statesman website, retrieved April 1, 2012.

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