Legislation supported by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart to help end delays for individuals in custody who are in need of placement in state facilities for treatment of serious mental illnesses, has been signed into state law.
System backlogs have left those court ordered for care through the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) waiting months in jail, delaying their treatment. As of Aug. 7, Cook County Jail had 20 people awaiting transfer to DHS. On that list: a 62-year-old woman with a criminal trespass case, who has waited 117 days for placement since her order was issued. She is one of 16 individuals who have waited more than 25 days since their orders were issued.
HB 649, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago) in the House and Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) in the Senate, aims to end those backlogs, setting deadlines for when information is exchanged between criminal justice stakeholders and DHS.
The bill requires that court orders for those individuals ordered to DHS care be transmitted within five days from the court clerk’s office. Currently there is no deadline on when these orders should be sent to DHS.
It also requires that DHS respond to a Sheriff’s Office to evaluate the defendant and determine placement within 20 days of receiving an order – down from the current 30-day window. If DHS fails to do so within 20 days, the Sheriff’s Office will inquire about the defendant’s status. DHS has two business days to respond to a Sheriff’s inquiry.
Sheriff Dart would like to thank the Department of Human Services and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association for their support of this legislation.