The Oregon legislature is poised to begin its 2013 session. Today, I am sitting in a hearing room listening to a full day training for legislators on mental health and the criminal justice system. In the wake of the tragic shootings at Clackamas Town Center and Newtown, Connecticut, legislators are looking at better ways to keep individuals and the community safe as well as making the best use of our criminal justice and mental health resources.
DRO is participating in this discussion and is working on a number of other disability-related issues and bills. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be working on legislation to:
1. Improve communication between the state hospitals and district attorneys regarding patients who are mentally incapable to facing criminal charges,
2. Limit the transfer of seriously mental ill patients from the state hospital to jail,
3. Allow findings of guilty except for insanity for minor crimes to be expunged from a person’s record,
4. Extend the law regulating seclusion and restraint of school children beyond 2017,
5. Direct schools to send seclusion and restraint reports to the state Department of Education,
6. Clarify that a person cannot lose his or her parental rights solely because of their disability,
7. Extend state law protection for the use of assistance animals to all people with disabilities,
8. Strengthen the law limiting use of seclusion or restraint on individuals with intellectual disabilities.
DRO will be involved in monitoring and commenting on many other bills affecting Oregonians with disabilities as the session moves ahead. As usual, we will send out a weekly Legislative Update during the session to our email list. If you would like to be on that distribution list, send us a request with your email address, sit back and enjoy the action!