By: Robert Friedman, Attorney with the Department of Public Advocacy in Lexington, Kentucky
KRS 202A.251 Prohibition against detention in jail without criminal charges pending --Criminal charges not to be placed to avoid transportation.
No person held under the provisions of this chapter shall be detained in jail unless criminal charges are also pending. No peace officer or any other person shall place criminal charges against a person who is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization pursuant to this chapter solely or primarily for the purpose of avoiding transporting the person to a hospital or psychiatric facility.
This is the law, but it it widely disregarded. A lot of police officers are simply unaware of it. A few just wink at it and take persons with mental illness to jail.
Here’s the “cash value”: if the officer knows the person is mentally ill and thinks he/she might be dangerous, the officer cannot legally place charges without taking the person for a psych exam first.
People need to demand that the police observe the law ... probation officers, too. If your elected officials turn away when you bring it up, vote the crooks out!
Otherwise, people with serious, chronic, mental illnesses—schizophrenia, bipolar I, schizoaffective disorder—end up getting arrested for petty garbage—criminal trespass 3rd, disorderly conduct—and taken to jail.
This is both cruel to person with mental illness and costly to the public. (Jail ain’t cheap to the taxpayers, nor should it be.) We don’t have to change the law to do better. We just have to know it and observe it.
Note: "These are my views, and I am not speaking on behalf of the DPA." ~ Robert Friedman