- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A county commissioner in northeast Kansas has chastised the state for not meeting its court-ordered obligations to transfer 12 jail inmates to receive mental health evaluations in another town.

Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook said on Thursday that the state’s failure to transfer people being held at the local jail has brought significant financial cost to county taxpayers, the Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/2oTrloX ) reported.

Angela de Rocha is the spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. She said the agency is trying to do all it can to resolve the situation.

De Rocha said district courts are referring more people for evaluation to the State Security Program at Larned State Hospital, which doesn’t have enough clinicians and care staff members to accommodate that amount of people.

“These evaluations, determinations of whether a defendant is fit to stand trial, must be performed by clinicians with the appropriate advanced degrees,” she said. “It is difficult to recruit such professionals to work at LSH. And they have to be trained to perform these kinds of evaluations.”

Cook said a district judge may order the defendant committed for 90 days to be evaluated at the Larned facility, which determines whether the defendant is competent to be tried.

“This denial for evaluation is a denial of a victim’s case moving forward, it is a denial of a defendant’s basic constitutional rights to have their case heard in a timely manner and finally it is a failure of the state of Kansas to provide for its legal obligations,” Cook said.

De Rocha said officials are looking at other alternatives, including having inmates evaluated in their own county by staff members from local community mental health centers.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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