This whole “incompetence” status often is a gateway component for troubling guardianship cases which contribute to the overall issue of probate abuse. The use of this status also shows the danger of overly-intrusive government.
Grits for Breakfast offers interesting perspective on this topic with a recent post Man deemed incompetent held 20 years without trial for attempted murder, may be released. Here’s what the post has to say about the case of Brad Reinke, a man deemed incompetent to stand trial for attempted murder of his father 20 years ago:
Eric Dexheimer at the Austin Statesman brings an update on the case of Brad Reinke, a man deemed incompetent to stand trial for attempted murder of his father 20 years ago (“Mentally ill defendant up for release despite fears he could return to violence,” July 7). Now that he’s spent longer incarcerated in jail and state hospitals than his sentence would be if he’d been convicted, the Court of Criminal Appeals has ordered him released, leaving prosecutors scrambling to keep him incarcerated.
Here’s the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling on the case, which was fairly narrow, simple and unanimous. They said that the law is clear Reinke must be released when he’s been held as long as the max sentence for the crime for which he was to be tried. Travis County prosecutors argued that should be read to include any possible sentence enhancements based on past offenses, but the court held that those cases had already been adjudicated, and that the only case for which Reinke was “to be tried” was the attempted murder beef.
This circumstance highlights the flaws of treating the criminal justice system as the main access point for indigent mental health care. It’s the old problem: When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The law allows for civil commitment if Reinke is still dangerous – and some still think he is – but his recent behavior record at the hospital has been good and may disqualify that option.
For 20 years Travis prosecutors have kicked this case down the road until now they can’t anymore. Finding other options for Reinke outside the forensic mental health system has never been a priority to the state because they already had a justification for locking him up without a trial. But that was never a permanent solution, which has now become clear. If he’s dumped from the jail to the streets after 20 years with little support or supervision, that’s the worst possible outcome from his long-term legal limbo.