Judge approves settlement in competency case against state

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge who said Washington state was violating the constitutional rights of mentally ill people warehoused in jails as they await competency services has approved a settlement in a case they filed against the state.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman approved the agreement Tuesday and the Department of Social and Health Services announced it Wednesday.

The settlement reached between Disability Rights Washington and the state is designed to bring the state into compliance with the judge’s order to provide timely competency evaluations and treatment for mentally ill people charged with crimes.

It also will end the contempt fines the state has been paying for years. To date, the state has been fined more than $83 million.

DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange says the agreement will increase diversion programs and ensure people get treatment before ending up in the criminal justice system.