Community Competency Evaluations

Senate Bill 5177 (2015) made recent changes to RCW 10.77.073, relating to county eligibility for county-referred competency evaluations for in-custody defendants. 

The attached letter explains the following:

  • The new law expanding county eligibility for reimbursement for local evaluation services when State Hospital evaluators are unable to meet the seven-day performance targets for in-custody competency evaluations;
  • New legislative funding for the counties under the 2015-17 Biennial Operating Budget.
  • New county data collection requirements under SB 5177;
  • County obligations if they are not able to meet the seven-day timeline; and
  • The reimbursement procedure to ensure payment by DSHS.

NOTE:  DSHS is actively recruiting forensic evaluators, and will be stationing some of those evaluators in counties with relatively high average numbers of evaluations. DSHS fully intends to meet its seven-day deadlines as mandated in the federal district court case of Trueblood et al. v. DSHS et al. by the court-ordered deadline of January 2, 2016. Accordingly, before hiring or contracting with forensic evaluators, counties should notify evaluators that once DSHS begins meeting its seven-day performance targets under RCW 10.77.073, there is a risk that the counties may not be eligible for funding for the next succeeding quarter. Counties may therefore wish to engage evaluators on a quarterly or on-call basis.