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About Mental Health

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By Scott Shafer

In 2010, Rodney Bock was arrested for carrying a loaded gun into a restaurant in Yuba City, Calif., north of Sacramento. Bock had severe mental illness and was later found incompetent to stand trial. He was released on bail, but was rearrested after he failed to appear at a court hearing.

Bock, 56, was placed in the Sutter County jail, awaiting transfer to a state hospital. While there, he began suffering hallucinations. After more than two weeks in jail, Bock hanged himself.

Mentally ill defendants like Bock, who are declared incompetent to stand trial, are supposed to be transferred to state mental hospitals for treatment within two or three months. But more than 300 of them throughout California are languishing in county jails because there’s simply no bed space.

Bock’s daughters are now plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, charging two state agencies, including the Department of State Hospitals, with denying mentally ill inmates their right to due process — and the treatment they need.

“Jail is simply too dangerous a place for these most vulnerable defendants,” said Micaela Davis, lead attorney in the lawsuit. “We have inmates that are waiting eight, nine months and sometimes over a year before being transferred to a facility for treatment.” Read More