Bergstrom Bill Would Require State Mental Health Department to Begin Treatment In Jail
From the Norman Transcript: “The bill would also require the Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or another provider to begin treatment in jail for people found incompetent to stand trial if a bed doesn’t open up at a state hospital within 30 days…A Frontier investigation published in June found that dozens of Oklahomans declared incompetent to stand trial waited as long as six months in county jails for mental health treatment, including many charged with only misdemeanor offenses.
Bill Aims To Speed Up Mental Competency Restoration Treatment
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State Senator Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair), has filed a bill to help ensure individuals awaiting competency restoration treatment necessary for them to stand trial have access to that treatment sooner. Senate Bill 1113 would provide for jail-based treatment.
Bergstrom said under Oklahoma law, a person accused of a crime must be able to understand the nature of the charges and proceedings, and effectively and rationally assist with their defense. If they cannot, they are deemed to be not competent to stand trial and must undergo competency restoration treatment before their trial can proceed. Currently, the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita is the only facility in the state designated to provide these services for all 77 counties.
“The Forensic Center simply doesn’t have enough bed space to meet the demand. For men awaiting competency treatment, there’s a five month wait, and it’s six months for women,” Bergstrom said. “Under my legislation, treatment may be made available at the jail, reducing the backlog and ensuring trials can move forward in a more timely way.”
Bergstrom said he was working with the Forensic Center and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) to address this issue by providing services at county jails. Under his legislation, if a forensic bed is not available within 30 calendar days after the court has determined an individual is not competent to stand trial, ODMHSAS would begin providing treatment and therapy or designate an entity to provide competency restoration services on behalf of the department.
SB 1113 will be considered when the 2022 legislative session convenes in February.
For more information, contact Bergstrom at (405) 521-5561 or email Micheal.Bergstrom@oksenate.gov.