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Judge in Arizona: mental health care evaluation moved out of state

Judge in Arizona: mental health care evaluation moved out of Arizona
Judge in Arizona: mental health care evaluation moved out of Arizona

According to NPR, a federal judge has ordered Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the January shooting rampage in Tucson, to undergo a mental evaluation at a specialized facility in Missouri as soon as possible.

Could this serve as yet another peek inside mental health services in Arizona? What does it say about Arizona when a judge agrees that a quality, trustworthy evaluation is not possible here in Arizona? Why does Loughner have to travel to Missouri to get a quality comprehensive complete evaluation?

The defense attorney for Loughner opposes the move because she feels that moving Loughner will harm the defense team's efforts to develop an attorney-client relationship.

The defense also voiced concerned that Loughner is "seriously ill," and moving him to Missouri have a negative effect in his mental state.

Prosecutors pushed for Loughner's mental health exam to be conducted at a "referral center" providing forensic services for the federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Springfield, Mo. Loughner's lawyers would rather the exam be completed by an outside expert - not a Bureau of Prisons employee - at a Tucson prison.

The judge in this case agreed to the transfer request - ordering the scope of the exam be limited to whether Loughner is competent to stand trial, not whether he was sane at the time of the shooting.

Judge Burns cited a memo written by Dr. Donald Lewis, chief of psychiatry for the Bureau of Prisons. He wrote that the Springfield facility is best for Loughner's exam because it "has medical staff available for neurology and other organic testing, and has far more forensic staff and full-time psychiatrists available to provide round-the-clock assistance."

In Gilbert, Arizona - trying to find a consistent provider who treats pediatric emotional disorders like OCD, ADHD, and depression has been a 6 year struggle for one local family. They've been to doctors in Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Gilbert.

There are so few experienced pediatric psychiatrists, the family entertained the notion of going to another state to seek treatment on several occasions.

Clearly, Jared Loughner needs treatment of some sort - it is also clear Arizona isn't the place to be when seeking treatment of this kind.



Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. To read more, please visit her blog at, or browse by topic:

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Tracy can be found on Facebook (Tracy Lynn Cook) and on Twitter @TLCsThoughts.


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