Competency cases reviewed

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A newspaper investigation has revealed that competency cases for mentally ill defendants move through the Michigan criminal justice system slowly because of a lack of space at a state psychiatric facility.

A November list provided to MLive from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that there were 110 defendants awaiting mental health treatment. Many defendants wait an average of three to four months for treatment.

State health department officials say they’re working to address the problem.

The department spent $7 million last year to add 34 beds to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

A department spokeswoman says they’re helping regional hospitals train clinicians to conduct more efficient competency evaluations and restoration treatment. The spokeswoman says clinicians may begin conducting screenings to determine which defendants are most in need of care.

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