Letters to the Editor

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WSH: Ticking time bombs sent out into public

Letter by Sandra L. Hohn, Tacoma on Dec. 10, 2012 at 11:12 am with No Comments »
December 10, 2012 11:30 am

Re: “‘Time bomb’ son shatters family” (TNT, 12-8).

“Our function is to see justice is done, but that’s not the doctors’ job,” explained Phillip Sorensen, a deputy prosecuting attorney. “Their purpose is to make people better. For them, the best-case scenario is to get them healthy enough to be back in the community.”

While it may not have been intentional, this statement contains a huge falsehood. Schizophrenia does not “get better”; it can only be controlled to some extent with medication. The person’s “health” depends on continuing that medication. The state’s motivation (not the doctors’ or staff at Western State Hospital) is only to make them stable enough to toss back into the community and get them off the state’s dime. Public safety is not part of the consideration.

When you throw a schizophrenic out into the community without any system in place to monitor them, the first thing the vast majority of them do is quit taking their medication. Within days, they are right back in the condition that landed them in the mental hospital in the first place.

Compound that with the state’s refusal to tell any caregiver (like the Melines), what kind of medications the patient should be taking, and they are deliberately sending ticking time bombs into the public sphere.

Until lawsuits from victims’ families cost the state enough money that it acknowledges that releasing these mentally ill, dangerous patients is not a financially viable alternative, the state will continue to release them, and the tragedies will continue as the body count mounts.

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