Tom was never well enough to make his case in court. He was shipped off to the Oklahoma Forensic Center, in Vinita, OK. Until Tom gets stable and lucid enough to convince institutional personnel that he is stable, lucid, and coherent, he will not get to talk to the judge.
Until the judge decides Tom is competent, Tom will have an indefinite prison 'sentence', in the Vinita correctional facility. He will have the criminal justice system hanging over his head, assuming that there is probable cause to charge him with felony assault (an attempt to harm).
There is no long-term residential psychiatric facility run by the state. Our bureaucrats and lawmakers have been sold the notion that pharmaceuticals are 'miracle pills' which cure everybody. Tell that to Tom & his family...
So now Tom has a residential facility called PRISON. If ever a treatment is found effective for Tom, he will one day get his day in court; where he will begin to face charges for that threat of harm which cops say he made, several years prior.
It is considered "inhumane" to force-ably medicate prisoners, so we may never see Tom ever again. We have criminalized his illness. We sentenced him to Life, without ever letting him have a chance to speak to the judge. The system assumes Tom is a criminal. Some even believe Tom is a 'weasel' for seeking to 'use' an insanity defense. This system is also eerily similar to how Soviet societies dealt with political dissidents, like Ralph Wallenberg. Tom's denied due-process is an indictment on our whole society.
Oklahoma's constitution mandates 4 mental health facilities (Vinita, Taft, Norman, & Ft. Supply) for those needing a haven for their troubled lives. Vinita was the locale for a 2600-bed facility devoted to the care for those with a severe mental illness. These facilities encouraged the ill to take part in the hospital community; not only in the institutional operations, but also in some sustaining ventures, like the farming operation (like the one in the photo).
People were not inmates there. They were residents and sometimes they were lifetime residents. In 2000, Gov. Keating ordered the Vinita residential facility closed. The only remaining residential facility for the severely ill, is a prison.
* 'Tom' is a composite representation of individuals who this writer has gotten to know about, through discussions with several families dealing with serious mental illness. 'Tom' is therefor fictional, and none of the details written here are a statement of fact regarding any actual case or individual (regardless how similar this story is to the actual facts of any case).
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...