Lawmakers take action to cut down wait for inmate treatment

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Legislature has responded to a federal judge's order to cut wait times for crime suspects' mental-health services to seven days or less.

The Olympian reports lawmakers sent Gov. Jay Inslee policy changes addressing the number of beds and doctors needed to provide additional mental-health services to inmates Thursday. If approved, the changes would expand the kinds of places where inmates can be treated.

The governor's administration would be allowed under the bill to contract for treatment with private mental-health providers or local facilities including jails to treat inmates outside state hospitals.

But, the federal judge's April ruling brings doubt on whether jails are appropriate places for treatment.

The Legislature is adding 60 beds at the state hospitals to comply and expedite the process for treatment and evaluation.