ACLU sues state hospital system

ACLU alleges state is failing to transfer mentally incompetent inmates in timely manner

A recent lawsuit alleges that California's Department of State Hospitals and the Department of Developmental Services have failed to transfer mentally ill and incompetent inmates from jail to treatment facilities in a timely fashion.

On behalf of families of criminal defendants, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed suit on July 29, charging that “the two agencies are leaving vulnerable defendants to languish in jail, denying them treatment and their right to due process,” an ACLU press release reads. State and federal laws mandate that defendants who don't understand criminal court proceedings must be released for evaluation and treatment. If they're restored to competency, they then must return to court to face their charges.

Courts have recommended that defendants be sent to a state hospital within 35 days of such a decision, but the ACLU says many incompetent defendants wait more than a year before being transferred to a treatment facility.