DSHS statement on federal district court contempt ruling in Trueblood case

Release Date: 
Oct 25 2017
DSHS Office of Communications
Norah West
(360) 902-7833

OLYMPIA—The Department of Social and Health Services released a statement today, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 on the most recent ruling by federal Judge Marsha Pechman regarding the Trueblood case. This order applies a contempt ruling against the department regarding in-jail evaluations and imposes monetary penalties for delays. These monetary penalties are added to current contempt ruling and monetary penalties for delays in admission for inpatient evaluations and restoration treatment that began in July 2016.

“We are disappointed by this ruling,” said Carla Reyes, Assistant Secretary for DSHS’ Behavioral Health Administration. “We have made significant strides to reduce wait times for class members. Some of the key changes include the addition of over 50 percent more forensic evaluators; the creation of several outstation locations to put evaluators closer to the jails; and the implementation of mobile technology. These enhancements have decreased wait times. The average time to completion for in-jail evaluations is less than the 14-day requirement.

“Unfortunately, demand has skyrocketed beyond all historical data trends,” Reyes explained. “Between 2012 and 2016 demand for competency services rose from 2,827 referrals to 4,754 referrals. 2017 is on pace to equal or surpass the referral rate experienced in 2016. We will continue striving to meet the 14-day deadline for in-jail evaluations for every class member while also working with our community partners to determine causes for and strategies that might be implemented to address the surge in demand.”

To date, DSHS has incurred more than $30 million in fines from the court.

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DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.