Lawmakers weigh mental health treatment in jails and homes

Published: Feb. 11, 2020 at 4:10 PM CST
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The Department of Social Services is asking South Dakota lawmakers to allow criminal defendants who have been found mentally unfit for trial to be treated in jails or their homes.

The state agency says courts are increasingly finding criminal defendants incapable of understanding the proceedings or defending themselves due to mental illness. But many of those defendants have to wait months for treatment because the state's only public psychiatric hospital is understaffed and two of its four units are closed.

A Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill to allow the changes. It will next be considered by the full Senate.

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