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Jail is wrong place for mentally ill

Post by David Seago on May 31, 2007 at 9:50 am |
May 31, 2007 9:50 am

Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne offers this comment on Alex Otto’s Sunday and Monday TNT articles about Western State Hospital staffers being injured by mental patients. He makes a good point.


Excellent articles by the Tribune’s Otto and follow-up editorial.

However, one editorial comment may lack insight.


“Many of the attacks occur in the hospital’s forensics admissions

wards. . . . .”


“One forensics unit in Alabama, the Taylor Hardin Secure Medical

Facility
has succeeded in cutting its use of restraints without a

corresponding rise in attacks, an impressive performance.”


“One of its strategies is doing more competency evaluations in jail,

not at the hospital. Western State could benefit from that practice.”


The editorial staff is probably not aware of problems created for the

jail and for the truly mentally-ill patient placed in a jail setting.

We have learned from you-all that jail is often the worse placement for

a mentally-ill person, and when combined with the typical delays (out of

sight -out of mind) in completing the forensic evals, the patient

(offender) often decompensates miserably. The jail is not a hospital

and cannot dispense needed medications to the “accused” in the same

manner as a mental hospital. A sound-minded person can have difficulty

with being locked down in a the jail setting, but a mentally-ill person

can have his schizophrenic paranoia fed by the setting. There is a

difference between the offender looking for a way-out via the mental

defense, and the truly mentally-ill who should go to the hospital

promptly. ??

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