Judge finds Oregon violates mentally ill defendants' rights

A judge is holding Oregon's public psychiatric hospital in contempt of court, ruling that hospital leaders "willfully violated" court orders to swiftly admit defendants in need of mental health evaluations and treatment.

Posted: Jun 4, 2019 5:26 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A judge is holding Oregon's public psychiatric hospital in contempt of court, ruling that hospital leaders "willfully violated" court orders to swiftly admit defendants in need of mental health evaluations and treatment.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the contempt ruling was issued Tuesday by Judge D. Charles Bailey of Washington County Circuit Court.

It's the sternest and most consequential rebuke yet of the state's lapses handling the rise in criminal cases with mentally ill defendants.

At issue were orders Bailey handed down in four felony cases instructing the Oregon State Hospital to admit the defendants for evaluations or treatment so they could stand trial. Those orders built upon a federal court ruling requiring the hospital admit defendants within seven days to avoid unconstitutionally long jail stays.

Hospital administrators did not abide by Bailey's orders, saying that was because the hospital was full, among other limitations.

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