'Tom'* has had a difficult life. His schizophrenic illness has not responded to known medical treatments. Many of them have further harmed his health. For 25 years he has suffered with the ebb & flow of his psychosis intensity.
Doctors have tried massive doses, experimental techniques, and have given up. Often Tom has departed from institutions in worse shape than he entered them.
Last Fall, Tom's family sought to get a Canadian County court to order him into yet another psychiatric treatment intervention. The family contacted law enforcement repeatedly, and were routinely told that;
"Until he poses a threat to others, they cannot act."
Tom evidently did finally cross that 'line' and someone filed a criminal complaint, saying Tom made a threatening action. Tom was then arrested and put in the Canadian County Jail. The county has no mental health court.
Oklahoma has only 16 counties (out of 77) with a separate preemptive process for the seriously mentally ill. If your loved one gets seriously ill, get them to one of these 16 counties.
Those 16 counties have a system set up for the mentally ill whereby a special court process can address a serious mental illness.
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).
Had Tom been in a county with a mental health court, his family could have requested a psychiatric evaluation through a simple process involving an affidavit filed in the probate division of the county court clerk's office. Tom would never have had a criminal record. The state-run mental health facilities cost less than the jails, but the legislature refuses to fund them adequately. There are perpetual "NO VACANCY" signs posted on the state mental health facilities, because the legislature only directs funding at about 20% of what is needed. Our latest count is 349 state-run beds, in total.
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.
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.
There are thousands of 'Toms' in Oklahoma. Most of them will likely get a police record, but will get out of jail. Tulsa County Jail alone, has over 500 mentally ill men in their custody right now. They are treating those who accept treatment, but they are still assumed to be criminals. Most of them are nonviolent, but are particularly vulnerable to being victimized in jail, due to their declined mental state.
Jail is a very harsh environment for the mentally ill. Their underlying condition is made far worse because PTSD often results from the trauma they experience during a delusional state of mind, at the hands of law enforcement and the bad dudes in the jails.
Joshua Barre was shot by cops, last week. He was paranoid & delusional. He fled when cops came, because he sincerely believed they were going to kill him. So whose fear was more deadly? Joshua's, or the cops who killed him because they 'feared' he might do something harmful if he got into a convenience store.