By Jeff Clemens
Chinook Observer 

Pacific County joins lawsuit vs. DSHS


Last updated 9/7/2023 at 9:31am

An employee walks near an entrance to Western State Hospital in Lakewood. Pacific County has joined a lawsuit seeking quicker services for detained people.

SOUTH BEND - Pacific County is a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) filed on Aug. 23 by 22 counties in Pierce County Superior Court. The lawsuit aims to stop the agency from discontinuing services to defendants when charges are dropped.

The lawsuit centers on Western State Hospital (WSH) in Lakewood and Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, both of which DSHS operates. The hospitals are tasked with evaluating criminal defendants with questionable competency to determine if they are competent enough to stand trial.

If the defendant is deemed incompetent, the hospitals must provide timely restoration services due to the court case Trueblood v. DSHS, which brought attention to unconstitutional delays in competency evaluations. DSHS is mandated to provide services within 14 days of a court order for an evaluation and within seven days for restoration.

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