Salem, Ore. — Marion County has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit against the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon State Hospital in Marion County Circuit Court. The county is seeking a court order to compel the state to meet its statutory obligation regarding the evaluation and treatment of individuals with pending criminal charges who are unable to aid and assist in their own defense and require behavioral health restoration services at the State Hospital.
Commissioner Colm Willis emphasized the seriousness of the situation, stating, “This action is not something that we take lightly. We have been trying to solve these issues for a long time. The State needs to fulfill their responsibilities to the individuals needing critical treatment and to the citizens that are paying taxes for them to do the job that the law says is their responsibility.”
Under Oregon law, only the State is authorized to provide or contract for inpatient behavioral health restoration services. However, the state has consistently failed to secure adequate funding, build necessary facilities, and staff sufficient beds to meet the increasing demand for these services. Consequently, individuals requiring behavioral health restoration have often been released into the community without receiving the necessary care, leading to significant public safety concerns.
Commissioner Danielle Bethell expressed the impact of the state’s choices on local governments and communities, saying, “Local governments and communities are feeling and seeing the negative impact of the choices being made at the state level and are bearing the brunt of the State’s inability or unwillingness to do what it is legally required to do.”
Marion County’s lawsuit seeks a court order mandating that the State fulfill its legal responsibility by providing the necessary staff, facilities, and resources for inpatient restoration services to assist individuals in their own defense. Additionally, the county is seeking an order for the State to procure these essential resources.