Oregon State Mental Health Facility to be Sued Over Admission Delay

A man who awaited mental health services for over five months, while in jail, intends to sue the Oregon State Hospital.

Carlos Zamora-Skaar was arrested last December on a felony burglary charge while undergoing a severe mental health crisis, according to court documents.

Zamora-Skaar was sent to the Washington County Jail. Weeks after his arrest, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation at the Oregon State Hospital. However, according to his attorney in the burglary case, the months passed and Zamora-Skaar sat in jail until May 8.

According to an article released by The Oregonian in April, “The judge did not ultimately hold the state in contempt, noting that the need for a psychiatric evaluation of Zamora-Skaar was no longer necessary because he had so obviously degenerated during his long wait in jail. Judge Bailey instead ordered Zamora-Skaar to the state hospital for treatment.”

“Our client experienced a severe deterioration in his mental state during his long wait for transfer and treatment,” attorney Juan Chavez, project director at the Oregon Justice Resource center, said to OPB.

A federal judge in 2002 found that Oregon cannot keep people in county jails for more than seven days if a state court judge has determined they need to be at the state’s psychiatric hospital.

Earlier in the year, the Oregon State Hospital was sued for being out of compliance concerning admission delays. The hospital has returned to compliance. The return to compliance, is due in part to legislation that went into effect on July 15 making it more difficult for a judge to send inmates into state care.

The new legislation creates a shift by sending a segment of the population who had been going to the Oregon State Hospital back to their counties where resources are scarce.

A lawsuit is planned to follow in the upcoming months.

By Mariah Price