Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Thursday that he plans to work “very closely” with the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to reduce the state wait list for mentally ill inmates of local jails to receive treatment in the state’s psychiatric hospitals.

Hogan said the issue is the “No. 1 priority” of agency Secretary Van Mitchell, who has described the scarcity of psychiatric beds for inmates as a crisis.

In early March, there were 49 inmates waiting to get into one of the state’s five forensic hospitals. In two months, that number increased by 71 percent to 84 inmates.

“The state health department is focused on it,” Hogan said, when asked about the issue during a news conference on another topic. Hogan did not commit to providing the department increased funding, noting that his next budget proposal is more than six months away.

“Obviously we don’t put our budget together until next year, but we’ll be working very closely with that department to try and find some solutions,” Hogan said.

Advocates and correctional officers attribute the long waits to more people with mental illnesses being arrested and placed in jail.