During its last board meeting on March 28, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority’s Trustees dedicated $150,000 to the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to tackle the backlog of forensic psychiatric evaluations.
According to a statement from the Trust Authority this month, 45 of its beneficiaries are in a corrections facility awaiting forensic psychiatric evaluations. Mike Abbott, CEO of the Trust, said, “Alaskans shouldn’t wait in jail for seven weeks for their competency to be determined.”
With these Trust funds transferred to DHSS, Abbot believes defendants will be able to have their cases resolved quicker.
According to Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, legal proceedings cannot continue for these beneficiaries until an evaluation has been conducted, and recently, the Alaska Psychiatric Institute has not been able to keep up.
DHSS expects to have backlogged evaluations completed by mid-May through contracted forensic psychiatric services with API.
Image at top: A circa-2008 cityscape of Anchorage, where the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is located. Photo by Frank Kovalchek, shared from Flickr / Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0).