Talks begin to reduce time mentally ill held in Utah jails

Published on March 14, 2017 at 12:42PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Advocates for the mentally disabled are optimistic that new money approved by the Utah Legislature will help reduce the time mentally ill defendants languish in jail without treatment. Lawmakers recently set aside $3 million to resolve a federal lawsuit accusing the state of failing to provide a speedy trial for such inmates because of a shortage of hospital beds and specialists to treat them. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder says it’s an “abhorrent situation.” Utah Attorney General’s Office spokesman Dan Burton told The Salt Lake Tribune negotiations are underway but that he can’t comment on any details about the talks with the Disability Law Center, which brought the lawsuit. Aaron Kinikini, the center’s legal director, says there are no easy answers but both sides are working hard to address the problem.