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"The New Asylums: How Utah Traps The Mentally Ill Behind Bars" On Monday's Access Utah

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Across Utah, nearly 70 mentally ill men and women who are supposed to be receiving mental health treatment are instead trapped in jail cells. They're getting sicker. They're being released without treatment. They're dying.

They're not supposed to be there.

Charges with crimes but too sick to answer for them in court, they are stuck, waiting for an opening at the only facility in the state that can prepare them to face the legal system - the Utah State Hospital in Provo. The

Deseret News reporters McKenzie Romero and Daphne Chen are on the show with us today. They spent three months interviewing families, hospital employees and administrators; examining hundreds of pages of jail report, injury logs and court record; and found that:

Inmates are being forced to wait five months or more to get into the Utah State Hospital, far exceeding wait times in six other western states. some are dying before they get there. And others are being held for so long that the state is forced to release them from jail before they ever set foot in the .

$20 million per year spent rescuing mentally ill inmates who have hit their lowest point, instead of catching them when their symptoms were less severe.

In their opinion: A call for a special session to fund and fix mental health system

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.