State seeks more time on fix for 'boarding' mentally ill

The Seattle TimesDecember 10, 2013 

Western State Hospital in Lakewood

STAFF FILE PHOTO

When a Pierce County judge declared last spring that it was unconstitutional to put involuntarily committed residents in emergency rooms, officials successfully pleaded for a delay in the ruling so they could “think about” new ways to “attack the problem” of not having enough treatment beds for mentally ill residents.

Six months and zero policy changes later, the state is headed back to court to request another delay.

Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson will decide Tuesday whether to extend her stay, weighing civil liberties and community safety in the latest in a highly charged and closely watched case that could affect the entire state.

Nelson said after her ruling that she was “reluctant at this point to stay it any longer than six months.”

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