Trueblood et al v. Washington State DSHS

Trueblood Task Force

Background on Trueblood

All criminal defendants have the constitutional right to assist in their own defense. If a court believes a mental disability may prevent a defendant from assisting in their own defense, the, court puts the criminal case on hold while an evaluation is completed to determine the defendant’s competency.

If the evaluation finds the defendant competent, they are returned to stand trial. However, if the court finds the evaluation shows the person is not competent, the court will then order the defendant to receive mental health treatment to restore competency. 

In April 2015, a federal court found that the Department of Social and Health Services was taking too long to provide these competency evaluation and restoration services.

Where we are today

There is a mental health crisis in our state. The demand for all forms of mental health services far outweighs what is currently available.  That includes competency evaluation and restoration services.

Many of the problems with untimely competency evaluations can be prevented if fewer people with mental illness enter the criminal system to begin with. When people are able to get the treatment they need, when they need it, they are more likely to avoid becoming entwined in the criminal justice system. They are also less likely to place strains on the civil inpatient system. We intend to explore opportunities to provide access to appropriate behavioral health services which are designed to dramatically reduce the number of individuals entering the criminal justice system – enabling the state to meet the constitutional competency evaluation and restoration services timelines. 

We need to hear from you

Please contact us at

Task Force Materials


Monthly Progress Report for Court Monitor