Minnesota inmates with mental illnesses lack treatment

Published 9:15 pm Sunday, July 8, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — A lack of beds in Minnesota’s psychiatric facilities is keeping inmates with mental illnesses in jail without access to proper medical treatment.

Raymond Traylor Jr.’s prolonged detention at Hennepin County jail has become the latest boiling point in a long-running struggle between county and state officials over accommodating mentally ill inmates.

Traylor, 28, is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. He was held at the jail for 92 days without treatment before being transferred to Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center on Thursday. He was arrested in April for disorderly conduct charges, which were later dropped.

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“This will continue to go on, and people like Traylor will continue to be pushed aside,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “The state does not have the capacity and is not prepared to deal with those who suffer from severe mental illness, and they don’t appear willing to do much going forward.”

Traylor remained in jail for more than three months, exceeding the 90-day maximum sentence allowed for misdemeanor charges. His mental state deteriorated substantially while in custody, officials said. Court records show Traylor threatened jail staff and engaged in erratic behavior.

A 2013 law requires the state to find a psychiatric bed within 48 hours for inmates who a judge finds mentally ill. But state officials said Minnesota psychiatric hospitals weren’t prepared for the influx of court-ordered admissions from jails, and the wait to get into state facilities has increased since the law’s inception.