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Deal Reached For Faster Psychiatric Treatment For Louisiana's Mentally Ill Inmates

The state health department has agreed to provide more bed space for Louisiana inmates found incompetent to stand trial and those found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity. 

The MacArthur Justice Center and The Advocacy Center of New Orleans say the agreement in a federal court suit will mean an end to the "warehousing" of mentally ill inmates in jail.

Eric Foley is an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center. He says that as of May of this year, of the 25 people in the lawsuit found mentally incompetent to stand trial and waiting for treatment, one had waited over 270 days.

“The problem there is during that entire wait period you’re not able to continue with your trial. Your criminal case is basically on hold. So you find folks who are incarcerated for extended period s of time for essentially no good reason – so it’s a substantial delay," Foley said.

Others were found not guilty by reason of insanity. Foley says that of the eight people found on that waiting list in May – one was held for 339 days. That was nearly two years after the center filed the lawsuit.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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