Hello everyone.  Hope you are doing great.  I recently attended the dedication of the new Forensic Center (formerly Eastern State Hospital) in Vinita.  It is a beautiful facility that Oklahomans can be proud of.  Let me tell you a little about it.

     The Forensic Center is operated by the State Department of Mental Health.  It is where Oklahoma houses and treats criminals who have either been determined to be too mentally ill to stand trial or found “not guilty by reason of insanity”.

     Once a patient/prisoner is sent to the Forensic Center that person undergoes psychiatric treatment until he or she is sane enough to stand trial, return to prison, or if the patient has served out his or her term, be released.  Most respond to treatment but some are so mentally deranged they may live the rest of their life at the Forensic Center.  The facility is part hospital, part prison.  The rooms are like a prison but there are medical facilities, treatment rooms, and a pharmacy.  There is even a mock court room for the psychiatrists to work with the prisoner/patients to get them ready to go back to trial.

     The facility is also involved in teaching with psychiatric, psychology, social worker, and nursing students rotating through the facility.

     I am proud that I authored legislation last session setting up a “Forensic Review Board” that gives citizens of the surrounding community the right to review the recommendations of the treatment team at the Center and make comments to the judge who will determine when the prisoners can be released.  This gives an extra layer of protection to the community.

     Another facility dedicated the same day was the Rose Rock Treatment Center.  This facility is for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.  A beautiful building and a great program.  However, it is sad that in today’s times so many Oklahomans face substance abuse problems.  This is a problem that consumes valuable resources as well as wrecks families and individuals.

     In closing—remember to have family meals with your children and talk to each other.  Be a good role model for the young people in our state.  These simple things will go a long way to decrease the need for the facilities we have discussed today.