LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky state senator says he's working on a remedy after a WDRB News Sunday Edition pointed out a gap in state law.
"It's been scary as hell ever since I've been doing this,"Kentucky prosecutor, Shane Young, said in the story. "After a while, it's like beating your head on a wall, because you know this is going to happen again."
WDRB News started investigating the problem after a Louisville man was arrested recently and charged with hitting an 8-year-old in the head with a shovel and raping her. It turns out that 29-year-old Cane Madden has been charged with other serious crimes in the past, but each time, he's been found too mentally incompetent to stand trial.
"I think he's not in touch with reality the way most people are," a psychiatrist said in a January 2019 competency hearing.
However, each time he's been found incompetent in the past, he hasn't been held in jail or a mental hospital for long. His charges have been dropped, and he's back on the streets. Neither prosecutors nor judges are necessarily to blame.
In the past, prosecutors have tried to have him involuntarily hospitalized to get treatment, but doctors have released him every time when he no longer meets the strict criteria of a state law known as 202A. That statute says no mentally ill person shall be involuntarily hospitalized unless he's a danger to himself or others, unless hospitalization is the least restrictive treatment and unless he can reasonably benefit from that treatment.
"That defies logic. The person we can't help — those are the ones we're required to release back into the public," Young said.
Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat who represents part of Louisville, agrees.
"This is something we have to work together on and fix very quickly," he said. "I mean, we have to stop releasing and refusing treatment to people who are unquestionably dangerous."
McGarvey is already pushing for change just two days later.
"I am working with Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Sen. Damon Thayer, Rep. Maria Sorolis, and others — a bipartisan, urban/rural group of people — to fix this just as soon as we get back into session," he said. "Right now, what we're going to do is meet with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, social workers, the mental health community [to] make sure that we get this fixed exactly right so this never happens again."
He can't say much yet. The bill hasn't even been written. However, McGarvey expects it'll get wide support.
"It should pass overwhelmingly and easily through the legislature," McGarvey said. "We want people to be safe. We don't want people slipping through the cracks."
Without change, prosecutors say more people will get hurt or even killed because of the gap in state law that finds defendants like Madden are too mentally ill to stand trial but not legally qualified to be hospitalized or jailed indefinitely.
McGarvey believes a working group should be formed by the end of the week. It could begin meeting in early September.
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