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Issues raised in federal lawsuit against Lake’s Crossing Center called ‘moot’

A Nevada senior deputy attorney general called complaints in a lawsuit over wait times at the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric facility “moot,” according to a response filed in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Lake’s Crossing Center in Sparks was sued in June by the Clark County public defender’s office over the significant increase in delays for getting court-ordered patients admitted. The Northern Nevada facility is the state’s only center for evaluating the competency of offenders referred by the court system.

Under a settlement reached in an earlier lawsuit filed in 2005 for the same issues, the hospital is supposed to admit prisoners within seven days after being ordered by court. The lawsuit alleged that detainees have “routinely spent weeks, and in most cases, months, at detention facilities,” before being transported to the hospital.

In the response filed Monday, Julie Slabaugh, senior deputy attorney general, said the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit have since been admitted to the hospital. Slabaugh and Jennifer Lopez, spokeswoman at the Nevada attorney general’s office didn’t return calls seeking comment on Monday.

Clark County Deputy Public Defender Christy Craig, lead attorney for plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said one of the detainees was transported on his scheduled date after having waited for weeks, and the other two plaintiffs were transported by vehicle after special accommodations were made after the lawsuit was filed.

The lawsuit’s three plaintiffs are representative of all the other detainees experiencing the same situation, Craig said. As of Aug. 22, a total of 28 detainees awaited transportation to Lake’s Crossing.

“It’s an ongoing problem that has to be resolved,” she said.

The Metropolitan Police Department contracts with an aviation company out of the North Las Vegas Airport to fly to Lake’s Crossing every two weeks. Those scheduled to be transported on the next plane would have waited around 70 days, Craig said.

“It’s getting a little better, it’s down from 98 days,” she continued.

Early this month, the Nevada State Board of Examiners approved $3 million in contingency funds to renovate Stein Hospital, an old mental hospital on the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital campus in Las Vegas. The renovated hospital would hold 58 beds.

Forty-two of the beds would be for court-ordered patients and 16 would be available for other patients as an overflow from Rawson-Neal.

The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee is expected to vote on the final approval of the funds during its meeting Thursday.

Contact Yesenia Amaro at yamaro@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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