The Colorado Department of Human Services continues to fail people with mental illness who are in jail awaiting mental competency exams, and now lawyers who sued the state over the issue six years ago are asking a federal judge to intervene.

Lawyers working on behalf of Disability Law Colorado field a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Denver requesting a judge reopen enforcement action against the state because it is failing to meet requirements imposed under a 2012 lawsuit settlement.

“We tried to negotiate. We tried to work out a resolution,” said Iris Eytan, one of the lawyers working on behalf of Disability Law Colorado. “This problem has completely worsened since December. We were left with no choice but to ask the judge to intervene to help thousands of people.”

In an e-mailed statement, Robert Werthwein, director of the Office of Behavioral Health within the Colorado Department of Human Services, said the department is disappointed that Disability Law Colorado chose to re-open litigation because it has been doing its best to find solutions, including introducing legislation.

“DLC’s decision to reopen the litigation ignores the department’s efforts to find a workable solution to the backlog of court-ordered competency evaluations at our state hospital,” the statement said. “The department does not currently have the bed capacity to keep up with the extraordinary demand in competency evaluations and restoration, which have continued to increase at exponential rates. Requests for competency evaluations have increased by 524 percent from 2000-2017. Requests for competency restorations have increased by 931 percent from 2000-2017.”

In December, the human services department revealed that it was failing to meet the settlement requirements. It was the second time it reported failures in six months.

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Source:: The Denver Post – News

      

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Lawyers take Colorado DHS back to court over mental competency exam backlog

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