I just had another visit with the mother of David Fulps. This deeply stressed mother is still seeking the right solution for her suffering son. David is psychotic and harming himself and others because some inept public safety officials have not prepared themselves for the office they hold.
Nathan Bradshaw strangled himself, according to jail statements. He was on suicide watch and this wasn’t supposed to happen. There’s very little information on how this was allowed to happen. Sheriff Regalado still isn’t answering the questions which investigative reporter, Ziva Branstetter, is asking. The Frontier is suing the sheriff’s office for these public records (surveillance videos, personnel logs, etc.).
Of all the candidates at the February Forum On Mental Health And The Sheriff’s Office, Vic Regalado was the least engaged in the event. As the 2015 President of NAMI Tulsa, I moderated the event. Regalado showed up late, misread some of the questions, and added the least insight to the challenges of the job.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department is the #2 mental health facility in the state. Only the Oklahoma County Jail is treating more patients at any given time. This was not the intention of our state’s founding fathers. The Oklahoma Constitution still mandates the funding of Eastern State Hospital, in Vinita, but Governor Keating’s last years in office is when the promise was made to replace Vinita with a network of community based treatment centers like the Tulsa Center For Behavioral Health. Only 2 facilities were ever opened as state-run treatment centers. Their capacity is under 200 beds. Eastern State, in Vinita, had a 2600 bed capacity, at it’s height.
So Oklahoma is operating at 10% and the legislature shows no sign of fixing the problem. this leaves communities and counties to simply lock up the mentally ill under the pretense of criminal behavior. They hardly try to find a clinical solution when called to the scene of a mental breakdown. It’s just simpler to book a distraught person for “disorderly conduct” or other misdemeanor.
This is the type of short-sighted reaction which insures a revolving door lifestyle for the mentally ill. They get no outpatient care after their sentence, they probably lost their job, kids, and all hope for a productive future. They got kicked off any medical and other subsidies, because they were incarcerated.
Recovery from a serious mental illness takes months and years. But our shortsighted legislature and law enforcement has now labeled the mentally ill as criminals, and very few of us could recover the kind of hell we needlessly put the mentally ill and our state through.
I don’t just blame Sheriff Regalado. I blame the Legislature and the governor for dropping the ball. they saved the tax payers a dollar of state taxes, but the cities and counties have to spend $3 dollars to make up for each dollar of state cuts. Simply put, Short term community treatment facilities cost us way less than county jails do.
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