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Family of Louisville arson suspect says mental health system failed him

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Robert Curran’s attorney had an unusual request for his client on Wednesday in Jefferson District Court. Curran, in jail on charges of arson and wanton endangerment, is accused of setting fire to his apartment complex off Hazelwood Road in Louisville on Aug. 29. His attorney asked a judge to release his client from jail so Curran could receive mental health treatment at Central State Hospital. The judge denied the request, but Curran’s family says the scenario speaks to a bigger problem with the intertwined criminal justice and mental health systems. “A lot of this probably could have very well been avoided had we not had the pitfalls in the system that we have,” said Curran’s son, Cody. said both times, his father was released within three days. While that’s in accordance with state law, he said the duration was inadequate to address his father’s needs. Curran’s son said he also applied for a third mental inquest warrant, hoping to get his father recommitted, the day before the fire. “It’s a blessing that no one was injured,” he said. “What I’d like to say to is, I’m sorry that you had to go through this situation.”Curran would like to see changes that allow family members to get more information about their loved ones’ treatment, so they can help doctors make more informed decisions about whether to keep patients longer. In court Wednesday, Judge Julie Kaelin and even the prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Casey Holland, seemed sympathetic to Curran’s battle with bipolar disorder. But Judge Kaelin also worried there was no way to guarantee Curran would abide by the terms of the release – or to be sure Central State could take him in the first place. Although she denied Curran’s request, she said she would revisit his $100,000 bond once he has been evaluated for competency by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center.

Robert Curran’s attorney had an unusual request for his client on Wednesday in Jefferson District Court.

Curran, in jail on charges of arson and wanton endangerment, is accused of setting fire to his apartment complex off Hazelwood Road in Louisville on Aug. 29.

His attorney asked a judge to release his client from jail so Curran could receive mental health treatment at Central State Hospital.

The judge denied the request, but Curran’s family says the scenario speaks to a bigger problem with the intertwined criminal justice and mental health systems.

“A lot of this probably could have very well been avoided had we not had the pitfalls in the system that we have,” said Curran’s son, Cody.

Cody Curran said he had his father involuntarily committed to mental health hospitals twice this summer, but said both times, his father was released within three days. While that’s in accordance with state law, he said the duration was inadequate to address his father’s needs.

Curran’s son said he also applied for a third mental inquest warrant, hoping to get his father recommitted, the day before the fire.

“It’s a blessing that no one was injured,” he said. “What I’d like to say to [Curran’s neighbors] is, I’m sorry that you had to go through this situation.”

Curran would like to see changes that allow family members to get more information about their loved ones’ treatment, so they can help doctors make more informed decisions about whether to keep patients longer.

In court Wednesday, Judge Julie Kaelin and even the prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Casey Holland, seemed sympathetic to Curran’s battle with bipolar disorder.

But Judge Kaelin also worried there was no way to guarantee Curran would abide by the terms of the release – or to be sure Central State could take him in the first place.

Although she denied Curran’s request, she said she would revisit his $100,000 bond once he has been evaluated for competency by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center.

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