Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State, ACLU Settle Lawsuit on Incompetent Defendants

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State, ACLU Settle Lawsuit on Incompetent Defendants

Article excerpt

The state Department of Human Services has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the ACLU alleging that incompetent defendants were being held for months in jails and in two filled-to-capacity forensic mental hospital units, both sides confirmed Tuesday.

Pending the approval of U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania plans to detail the agreement at a news conference this morning. In a press release, the ACLU wrote that the settlement affects "hundreds of people with severe mental illness who have been languishing in Pennsylvania's county jails for months and even years."

When defendants are deemed incompetent to stand trial, they are supposed to be transferred within a week to Torrance State Hospital in Derry or Norristown State Hospital in Montgomery County, and restored to competency or transferred to suitable long-term housing. …

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