OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. 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 Sen. Micheal Bergstrom at 405-521-5561 or email Micheal.Bergstrom@oksenate.gov.