SPRINGFIELD, Ill.— A group representing county sheriffs in Illinois is supporting legislation to address a backlog of jail inmates waiting to be transferred to crowded state psychiatric facilities.
The Illinois Sheriffs' Association said inmates sometimes wait months in jail before they can get into a state facility for court-ordered treatment. These inmates, defendants who have been determined unfit to stand trial because of mental illness, can sometimes return to court to stand trial after treatment.
For example, in McLean County, Thomas Meece was determined unfit to stand trial on charges related to the beating death of his daughter. He waited in jail for two months last year for a bed at Springfield's McFarland Mental Health Center. He eventually was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent for long-term treatment.
The sheriffs' organization supports a legislative proposal that would allow sheriffs to take such inmates to the nearest treatment facility after 10 days in jail. The bill would require the facility to admit the defendant.
Greg Sullivan, executive director of the sheriffs' association, said about 90 inmates were waiting to be transferred to Illinois Department of Human Services facilities as of March 1. Some had been waiting as long as three months.
Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz, president of the sheriffs' association, said the backlog leaves county taxpayers burdened with paying for inmates who should be the responsibility of the state mental health system.
"The last place these defendants need to be is in a county jail," Hertz said in a statement. "They need to be in a treatment facility that has the proper staff and resources."
Monday, April 4, 2011
From The AP:
Posted by BA Haller at 9:28 PM