NC agency looks at outsourcing mental health tests

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- North Carolina is exploring whether it can save money by outsourcing psychological evaluations and care of accused criminals who may suffer mental illness.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Wednesday that the state Department of Health and Human Services is asking private firms what they would charge to house about 90 patients. That number includes maximum security patients who could be accused of murder.

Those patients are now at Dorothea Dix Hospital. The Raleigh hospital stopped accepting new patients last week and could close next year.

Orange and Chatham county District Attorney Jim Woodall says prosecutors won't like outsourcing the sensitive evaluations that help determine whether defendants are too mentally ill to stand trial.

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Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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