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Unfit for Trial, Many with Special Needs Stuck Behind Bars

California Autism News Autism Awareness News Legislation and Healthcare

April 13, 2015- "Unfit for Trial, Many with Special Needs Stuck Behind Bars"- Defendants with mental illness or developmental disabilities who have been ruled incompetent to stand trial has become a persistent problem that judges, lawyers, doctors, and jailers are working to resolve in the state of California. The backlog of inmates with these diagnoses are costing taxpayers money and delaying treatment for the accused as well as justice for them and their victims. Once a judge finds a felony defendant incompetent for trial, the person is supposed to go to a state hospital for treatment and training until he or she is able to understand the criminal charges and help an attorney prepare a defense. A lack of hospital space is causing these individuals to remain detained while they await a hospital bed to open up, barring them from receiving a speedy trial. In Los Angeles County alone, more than 100 yet-to-be-tried jail inmates are waiting for state hospital beds.