PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – An advocacy group for people with mental and physical conditions has filed in federal court to ask a judge to hold the state in contempt over its treatment of mentally ill defendants.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Disability Rights Oregon on Tuesday joined law firm Metropolitan Public Defender in that request. It foreshadows what could be a costly legal decision for the state but one that forces mental health care and criminal justice reforms.

At issue is defendants’ timely access to treatment to enable them to assist in their own defense, a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

A longstanding federal court order requires Oregon State Hospital officials to admit defendants who need competency evaluations within seven days of a court order.

Officials have testified in state court that Oregon has failed to comply with this order in recent months because the hospital is full.

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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