Mental Health and Justice: Homegrown American Failure

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Mental Health, Public Safety, and What the Hell Have We Done?

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    One of the mind-numbing aspects about the Steilacoom catastrophe is that we've been watching it happen for years. I don't think state-run facilities ever recovered from the Reagan administration, and they weren't exactly the best of environments to begin with.

    Corrections officials who investigated the April escape of two violent patients from Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital say they discovered a list of mistakes, blunders and deceptions at what should be a secure facility.

    Investigators tasked with assessing security at Western State Hospital determined there were no routine inspections; 25,000 master keys were missing; thousands of tools used to open patient windows had been misplaced; and management was unwilling to recognize that failing to focus on security puts patients and the public at risk, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press in response to a public records request ....

    .... The escapes prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to order a team of experts to evaluate security at the 800-bed hospital. Their report said staff cooperated with the investigation, but hospital leaders weren't responsive to requests for documents or open to feedback.

    Inspectors said the problems they found were similar to those identified during a security assessment six years ago.


    I should have started a thread on this six years ago. Of course the story would still be dragging on today.

    We can blame government all we want, but for all we complain, voters never force the issue.

    Yeah, we built this.


    Bellisle, Martha. "Report cites lax security at mental hospital". The Big Story. 14 September 2016. 15 September 2016.
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  3. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Looking after crazy people takes money. Nobody wants to part with any money.
    Money-cultur4e drives a lot of people crazy. Nobody wants to know about them.
    When you suggest spending money on people nobody wants to know about, you're barking at the moon.
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  5. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Much of this has to do with making money for lawyers. The insanity defense forces culture to coddle violent offenders, who use the insanity defense to get an easier stay in a mental hospital. The result is skilled criminals will also populate mental hospitals ,where administrators see only mentally disabled people. It is sort of like building a six foot wall for quadriplegic patients, among which are people with all their limbs, whom PC and the lawyers define as having no limbs.

    There are too many people in positions of leadership who believe that words means more than reality; PC. This confuses the situation, so thing are not addressed properly. In that same politically correct world, legal and illegal aliens are defined as being all the same. Criminals are merged with the honest; Hillary, and the sane are merged with the insane. When half of the population can't make a distinction many things go undone.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Stating the Obvious


    Look, skilled criminals occasionally making it to a mental hospital happens, but that's the closest thing to a useful sentence in your post.

    That's a really shitty way for lawyers to make money; if they want to rip off the mental health part of the criminal justice systetm, they need to just sit back and sue the hell out of the state every time something goes wrong.

    Insanity defense. Yeah, public defenders are just rolling in bank, which is why we see so many competency defenses every day in this state.

    Go choke on your infantile potsherds somewhere else. Every once in a while, Wellwisher, people want to have a serious discussion. So here's a challenge to you: Is there any discussion around here you can actually contribute to? Do you think you can do that? Can you be constructive? Is that actually within the range of your faculties?

    Because, honestly, the rest of us are sick of your bullshit, and you're so goddamn desperate to spam your keyword you stuck her name into a sentence with no reason.

    So, no: People are better off not wasting their fucking time on you.
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Well, true. But that's the thing. In my youth, for instance ... look, to the one, I learned the bit about the measure of a society―in multiple forms, including our regard for the sick, weak, despised, or incompetent, as we might consider on this occasion―early on. And, to the other, I also learned very quickly that it was all talk. There is, in my lifetime, overlap between the recitation that the measure of a society is found in how it treats its most despised and those who took vice in despising. That's how we got into this mess. Western State is a symbol in my lifetime. I grew up around here; this is home. And Western State Hospital is a scary myth of my childhood.

    But this is ... insanity. In May, we learned that 185 inmates had escaped↱; over a three and a half year period. By the next month the hospital chief, ostensibly there to clean the place up, was ordered to jail↱ because she refused to admit a court-ordered dementia patient on the grounds that she had no bed space or facility resources, and, furthermore, had more pressing needs than a civil commitment on her wait list; the judge, in that ruling, appealed to the governor and legislature to do something useful.

    And the weird thing about it is that we are so determined to not know or think about these people that we won't do anything about the situation even when one of them escapes and actually does severe harm. That's the really weird thing. We've done insane things to our criminal justice system because once upon a time a known sex offender assaulted and mutilated a little boy. But we've never, in all that time, attempted to reform our mental health system.

    Think of it this way, did you ever see Nolte and Short in Three Fugitives? The movie opens at a prison on an island; since then, we've turned that prison into the facility where we send sex offenders whose sentences are finished and we feel we have reason to keep them locked up, anyway. There are constitutional questions aplenty, but, hey, they're sex offenders, so ... good luck gettin' them out of there. We invented some paperwork. It's all square for another twenty years or so until it all comes apart, anyway; or maybe some idealistic lawyer will decide it's worth being killed by a mob with torches and pitchforks, yet miraculously be smart enough to pull it off.

    And the thing is that until we are actually forced to deal with these problems, we won't. Oh, right ... you were saying.

    But, yeah. We need a new facility. Three or four of them, actually.

    Thing is that people occasionally want to know about them, mostly for the satisfaction of knowing we're still getting away with treating someone―anyone! please, God, please!―in this society so poorly.

    Even worse, we won't get around to it until the private sector has figured out how to make a lot of money failing to accomplish the task and then blaming government for being dumb enough to ever hire them in the first place.

    Oh, right: The order sending the hospital CEO to jail was scrapped↱, and so forcefully that the country superior court has stayed future contempt orders not yet issued. The problem with holding Strange in contempt is that she is correct.

    The one thing we won't do, though, in the Evergreen State, is vote to fund these programs adequately. Thus, while boarding is illegal for good reason, it's also the only thing left to do. For instance, nobody is trying to hold Superior Court Administrator Craig Adams criminally accountable for trying to force a mental hospital to violate its own overburdened standards and undertake even worse practices. There is a bottom. Even the private sector contractor can only drop their standards so far. But Judge Serko called off the order to send Cheryl Strange and Bea Dixon to jail because, technically, according to the abysmal circumstances actually occurring, they were correct, and did the right thing by saying no. When we run through all the procedures, the fact remains that the state is not attending these needs appropriately.

    Watching the legislature fail to deal appropriately with education, per the McCleary ruling, and watching voters continue to antagonize public revenue streams ... look, we care when these people turn up in our community killing our neighbors. And that seems to be about it.

    Were we a mythology, one can only wonder at the moral of the story.


    Bellisle, Martha. "Dozens escaped from mental hospital since 2013". The Big Story. 3 May 2016. 17 September 2016.

    O'Sullivan, Joseph. "Western State Hospital CEO ordered to jail for keeping dementia patient on waitlist". The Seattle Times. 10 June 2016. 17 September 2016.

    Robisnon, Sean. "Jail trip for state hospital CEO canceled until further notice". The News Tribune. 16 June 2016. 17 September 2016.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    But there is such a good chance that it'll be in somebody else's neighbourhood. If you're rich, it almost certainly won't be yours, and the mercenaries will take care of any intrusion. If you're upper middle class, it probably won't be yours, and the security firm will take care of any intrusion. If you're lower middle class, you might worry a bit and go out and buy a second gun for your wife, just in case. If you're working class, you're too busy traveling from one job to another and counting dollars till payday to care about any of this, even if you catch a sound-bite. If you live where all the invisibles live, it don't make no difference whether it's an escapee who runs amok or a druggie or a discarded veteran or a burned-out stockbroker.

    Thing is, a terminally dysfunctional society can't get its act together on any issue.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
    Tiassa likes this.
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Okay, so, Band of Susans' album The Word and the Flesh has been described as "a tribute to the E chord" (Taraska)↱; I simply describe it as monochrome, and it turns out to be one of those times when I completely by accident became fascinated with what turned out to be a really important example of what it is. (It's a weird joke about coincidences my brother and I have; never mind.)

    One of the really fascinating things about the album, aesthetically, is that the lyrics are printed in block paragraphs, all lower case, with no punctuation. It's the weirdest thing, but it makes a difference. Everything about the album seems ... well, it opens with the words "still life":

    still life a monument of colored stone a nest of polished bone in glittering heat in droning sun fallout showers riot of shooting stars in dislocated skies in flickering heat in burning sun a race for last place the sky opens twice white ships covered with ice riding oceans of air cross on to another world picture an island the snow is softly falling falling softly enough to make the desert bloom enough to wake the dead who keep on dreaming an endless dream

    ("Ice Age"↱)

    Everything about the album feels like polished bone and dislocated icy skies.

    You'd have to cut a few words here and there in order to polish it out, but your paragraph could be made a minimalist still-life celebration of dismal gray perfectly suited to our cedar-scented winter mourning.
  11. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Thank you.. Maybe I'll put it in a story about a 'moker.... Um, no; seems John Brunner's done all that decades ago. Now I have to go check out that album.
    ...well, not something I'll be humming while I rake the garden.

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