Pennsylvania is being accused of blatantly violating its agreement in federal court to ensure mentally ill defendants avoid long stays in jail before they are transferred to a state hospital for treatment.
Civil rights lawyers returned to federal court in Harrisburg on Thursday to insist the state continues to commit the nation's worst constitutional violations of mentally ill defendants. They say mentally ill defendants are waiting over a year to leave jail for a state hospital, and want it reduced to seven days.
"Every day, the commonwealth is violating the constitutional rights of people who need treatment but instead are sitting in jails, where they are vulnerable to further deterioration, isolation, and abuse by other inmates," Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said.
The lawyers also say the number of people awaiting transfer has risen to 258 from 215 at the time of the state's January 2016 settlement.
They say some mentally ill defendants accused of petty crimes wait longer in jail than a guilty verdict would have required.