Think Out Loud

Oregon considers changes to involuntary civil commitment law

By Julie Sabatier (OPB)
May 3, 2021 10:35 p.m.

Broadcast: Tuesday, May 4

The Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore., is pictured on Thursday, June 27, 2019.

The Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, is pictured in June 2019. This is one of the places that takes patients who qualify for involuntary civil commitment.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB


Oregon lawmakers could change a powerful but controversial tool known as involuntary civil commitment. It means that people with serious mental illness can be hospitalized against their will under certain circumstances. The new bill aims to create a clearer legal standard for what qualifies someone for civil commitment. A similar bill failed in the 2019 session.

We hear from Pat Wolke, a circuit court judge in Josephine County and co-chair of the Workgroup to Decriminalize Mental Illness, which helped craft the bill, and R. Drake Ewbank, a mental health service provider who opposes it.

Contact “Think Out Loud®”

If you’d like to comment on any of the topics in this show, or suggest a topic of your own, please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter, send an email to, or you can leave a voicemail for us at 503-293-1983. The call-in phone number during the noon hour is 888-665-5865.


Related Stories

Transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming singers finding their voice

How can the music world create a more inclusive environment for all voices? That's a question that’s top of mind for some musicians and educators. We hear from Ash, the artistic director of Transpose PDX, a Portland nonprofit that has a community choir and acapella group aimed at empowering transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming musicians. We’ll also hear from Sarah Maines, a singing voice specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Portland, who teaches healthy vocal technique. They join us with details.

More than 100 American die everyday from opioid overdoses. But there’s a population of patients who have to live with long-term pain and for them, opioids can be a lifeline.

Addiction treatment drug buprenorphine easier to prescribe under Biden

People with substance use disorders have suffered in the past, not only from the consequences of their addiction, but also from the stigma that their condition is a moral failing rather than a disease. The field of addiction medicine has shifted over time to one that treats people with these disorders as patients who suffer from a disease and who may benefit from a medication to treat it. One of the prescription medications is buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone. Oregon State University Professor of Pharmacy Daniel Hartung says buprenorphine is a life saving drug that can effectively keep patients from abusing opioids. The Biden administration has just loosened buprenorphine restrictions to make it easier for doctors to prescribe it.