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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Unlikely To Meet January Deadline For 7-Day Competency Services

Thomas Hawk
Flickr -

Washington is unlikely to meet a January deadline to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health services within seven days.

Washington is under a federal court order to evaluate mentally ill jail inmates within seven days of their being jailed. The state then has another seven days to hospitalize inmates found not competent to stand trial.

Carla Reyes, assistant secretary in charge of the state’s mental health system, said the system won’t have enough beds by then to meet the court-ordered timeline.

“Can we get there by January? It’s probably not likely we can get there by January with 90 beds,” she said.

That’s the number of beds the system planned to open to meet that court-ordered seven-day timeline. A 30-bed expansion at Western State Hospital is now on hold because of a staffing crisis. Another 30-bed ward in Yakima won’t be online until March.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."