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Western State Hospital Psychologist On-Site at Snohomish County Jail for Competency Evaluations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 2, 2015

CONTACT: Shari Ireton, Director of Communications, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, 425-388-3377, Media line:  425-249-6263

EVERETT, Wash. – The first of two psychologists from Western State Hospital began working on-site today at the Snohomish County jail to conduct court-ordered competency evaluations.  The goal of having WSH staff on-site is to reduce the wait time for competency evaluations, especially for inmates incarcerated for misdemeanors who suffer from significant mental illness.

“Having Western State psychologists on-site is an enormous benefit for the communities we serve,” said Sheriff Ty Trenary.  “As we know, incarceration is not the right answer for low level criminals who suffer from mental illness.  Anything the Sheriff’s Office can do to swiftly move these offenders through the justice system and into the treatment they need is a win for everyone involved.”

“We are very excited about this partnership with the Snohomish County jail," said Carla Reyes, assistant secretary of the DSHS Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration.  "Partnerships such as these are key to helping defendants more quickly access evaluations and necessary competency restoration treatment.  We continue to work with other communities across the state to find ways we can collaborate across the forensic mental health system to improve access to needed behavioral health services.”

In 2014, there were more than 15,600 referrals of Snohomish County correctional facility inmates to jail mental health professionals (MHPs) and the MHPs had face-to-face contact with 2,659 inmates for mental health-related issues.  That same year, exactly 100 inmates were evaluated by WSH psychologists in the Snohomish County jail.

Providing WSH psychologists with an office in the jail as a home base will improve services for the Snohomish County court systems, local attorneys, community hospitals, and (most importantly) the inmates themselves.  It is expected to expedite the evaluation process and reduce the need for WSH staff to travel from the facility in Lakewood, or the satellite office in Seattle.