Oklahoma jails fail to treat inmates with mental illness, let them languish behind bars

Oklahoma jails fail to treat inmates with mental illness, let them languish behind bars
Oklahoma jails fail to treat inmates with mental illness, let them languish behind bars

A choose’s gavel sits atop a sound block, with the light backdrop of cursive writing from historic paperwork.

Citing a gradual course of for transferring inmates out of native jails and into remedy facilities, representatives of 4 individuals with mental sickness are suing the Oklahoma Division of Mental Well being and Substance Abuse Providers, and the Oklahoma Forensic Center.

The category-action lawsuit, which is filed in federal court docket, is asking that the defendants be ordered to develop a remedial plan to scale back wait occasions for competency restoration remedy.

In Oklahoma, competency is outlined as the flexibility of an individual arrested for or charged with a criminal offense to perceive the character of the fees and successfully and rationally help in his or her protection.

A choose or attorneys involved a few defendant’s competency could request that the defendant’s competency be evaluated.

Felony proceedings are suspended whereas the defendant is being evaluated. If the court docket determines the defendant is competent to stand trial, the felony proceedings resume.

However the lawsuit says the state’s competency restoration system is damaged, and “scores of presumed-innocent Oklahomans who expertise extreme mental sickness are languishing in county jails awaiting competency restoration remedy for extended intervals that far exceed constitutional limits,” the lawsuit says.

Named within the lawsuit are Carrie Slatton-Hodges, who’s the commissioner Division, and Dr. Crystal Hernandez, the manager director of the Oklahoma Forensic Heart in Vinita.

The lawsuit was filed by Leslie Briggs, Evan Watson and Henry A. Meyer, who’re every referred to as attorneys licensed in Oklahoma.

Briggs is representing a person and girl, every 42, in Tulsa County. Watson is representing a 46-year-old Comanche County man.

Meyer is representing a 22-year-old Oklahoma County man.

The lawsuit says the person has a historical past of mental well being issues, together with delusional and paranoid considering, and a previous analysis of psychotic dysfunction.

On July 18, he allegedly walked into an residence in Oklahoma Metropolis, stole a guitar and later advised officers when nobody answered the door, he determined to take the instrument, in accordance to the lawsuit.

Later that evening, he allegedly entered an residence with out permission, searching for a spot to sleep. The lawsuit says he allegedly broken plumbing fixtures and broke out a window to a neighboring unit so he may get inside “to pray.”

The person was charged in Oklahoma County District Court docket with second diploma housebreaking and grand larceny. Bail was set at $15,000.

The lawsuit says as a result of the person is indigent, a public defender was appointed to characterize him. Nonetheless, when his legal professional met with him, the person stared on the flooring and answered most questions by saying “I’m schizophrenic.”

On Aug. 26, the person’s legal professional filed an software to decide competency.

On Dec. 5, he was declared incompetent and ordered to the Oklahoma Forensic Heart.

As of the March 1 submitting of the lawsuit the person remained behind bars on the Oklahoma County jail, in accordance to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says his “mental and emotional situation deteriorates.”

In Oklahoma, individuals declared incompetent in court docket are sometimes denied restoration companies whereas being “caged in county jails” that wouldn’t have remedy assets or experience, the lawsuit says.

Some stay in jail greater than a yr earlier than getting state remedy, in accordance to the lawsuit.

Within the lawsuit, the plaintiffs wrote that they imagine the waitlist for these in Oklahoma jails searching for restoration companies is at the least 100 individuals.

In an e-mail, Spokesman Jeffrey Dismukes with the Division mentioned a assessment of the lawsuit has not been accomplished, however officers “disagree with its premise”

He mentioned officers have labored to start offering competency restoration companies in jails, which means inmates not have to look forward to remedy to start.

Competency restoration is a course of by which behavioral well being professionals work with a person to attain the flexibility to take part of their protection, Dismukes mentioned.

“Most frequently this implies prescribing treatment to treat the person’s mental sickness,” he mentioned. “By means of treatment, most people are in a position to acquire competency.  Extra complicated instances should be scheduled for transport to the Oklahoma Forensic Heart for added remedy and coaching.”

Dismukes mentioned the Division has additionally explored choices to scale back the variety of individuals in jail due to behavioral well being points, together with suggesting both jail diversions or outpatient competency restoration remedy in the neighborhood.

“Our hope is that extra courts will benefit from these alternatives and, when doable, enable these individuals to switch to a group remedy setting,” he mentioned.

This text initially appeared on Oklahoman: Lawsuit alleges jail inmates in Oklahoma receive no treatment for mental illness

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