Maryland lawmakers to tackle inmates' psychiatric bed shortage

Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch (right) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, who are both Democrats, call on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015 in Annapolis, Md., to steer $68 million into a school funding formula to fully fund it, due to $320 million in budget surplus in the current fiscal year. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

The Maryland General Assembly is expected to address the shortage of beds in psychiatric hospitals for inmates during its upcoming legislative session.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that a group of judges recently told state lawmakers it was vital to address the shortage of beds for inmates deemed incompetent to stand trial, which officials attribute to more arrests of people with mental illnesses and insufficient funding.

When a lawsuit was filed last year to compel the transfer of defendants from jails to hospitals, the number of inmates waiting was 84. The waitlist dropped to a low of 14 earlier this month.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Larry Hogan, Amelia Chasse, says the governor plans to appropriate funds for additional beds in his 2019 fiscal budget, but wouldn't say how much.

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