Letters to the Editor

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MENTAL HEALTH: Funding must be a priority

Letter by Kim M. Meline, Tacoma on March 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm with No Comments »
March 19, 2013 10:10 am

The recent articles in The News Tribune (3-10) have highlighted, very well, the “revolving door” policy that my family and I are too familiar with. The mental health system in Washington is, without a doubt, in crisis.

Nearly five months ago my son, Jonathan, killed his father. Rob’s murder never should have happened. Last year it seemed that Jon was to be committed to the institution for life, but he was released unexpectedly. Now we’re caught up in the system again.

The day that Jon had his arraignment for murdering his father, he was ordered to Western State Hospital for a competency evaluation. It took more than two weeks before WSH had a bed for him.

He went to WSH in November. After two months, doctors there deemed that he was competent to stand trial. With that, he was sent back to jail where he has remained for more than two months. Jon will likely be returned to WSH’s forensic unit. Once there, his custodians can decide, at any time, that he is no longer a threat and should be released into the community again – unless a new law has been enacted to keep that from happening.

Many of the bills that have been passed or will be passed in the near future concerning mental health currently do not have money behind them. Each one of us should be contacting our legislators to let them know that funding mental health is a priority.

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