The ACLU of Kansas, along with the National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers’ Guild and Stinson LLP, filed a class action suit on May 26, 2022 in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas against the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), citing wait times as long as 13 months for competency evaluations and restoration treatment for people facing criminal charges. 

KDADS, which runs the forensic unit at Larned State Hospital, has used a waitlist for bed space in that unit for years. Recently, however, wait times have become so long that people may spend more time waiting in jail for an evaluation or treatment bed, pretrial, than they would face in prison if they were convicted. KDADS’s egregiously long waitlist exacerbates the mental health challenges of those on the list, subjects them to prolonged punishment, and violates their Constitutional rights.

The lawsuit represents four individuals, each of whom is serving as a “next friend” of one or more individuals currently on the waiting list. While on the waitlist, these individuals are not receiving the comprehensive mental health care treatment they desperately need; their criminal cases are stalled; and they can further decompensate, making competency restoration all the more difficult. The suit was brought as a class action on behalf of Named Plaintiffs and those similarly situated, including the more than 100 people currently on the waiting list.

On May 26, 2022, we filed a motion for preliminary injunction which sought to discontinue and prohibit this unconstitutional practice of prolonged incarceration while awaiting mental health services.

The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to reduce the unconstitutional, unlawful and health-deteriorating waittimes for evaluations and treatment.

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On December 18, 2023, the court denied plaintiffs' request to enter a preliminary injunction, which would have remedied the months-long waitlist for bed space at Larned State Hospital for those awaiting mental health evaluations and treatment before they can be tried in criminal court. The order denying the entry of a permanent injunction does not end the case, and the parties remain in active discovery, which will continue through the summer.

Date filed

May 26, 2022