Here is a short article I found on NECN.com and I felt that this article was appropriate for my blog. In the past, I have posted articles that show the trend toward the criminalization of the mental health patient. This article, is just the opposite. I am amazed and upset by this article.
The last time I checked, I believe that prisons had mental health units. Why can these patients not be cared for in a prison mental health unit instead of in a community mental health unit? As a psychiatric nurse, I would worry all the time about the welfare of the rest of my patients who would be housed on the same unit with these sex offenders. Don’t they deserve to be free from assault and harm? Would the nursing staff have a chance to decide if they want to care for these sexual predators? Would the nursing staff be safe from these sexual predators?
Though there are locked units, they are nothing like jail or prison. The only locked door are the ones that lead to the outside world. The patients on the unit are free to wander about and interact with each other. How is safety to be addressed?
Please read the article and let me know what your feelings are on this topic, won’t you?
Care of sex predators comes at a price for others
The Missouri Department of Mental Health is making more spaces available for a steadily growing population of sex offenders, but at the same time the department is cutting back on hospital care for severely mentally ill patients because of budget limitations.
The Kansas City Star reports that starting this week, DMH plans to start moving 23 sexually violent predators from its treatment center in Farmington to Fulton State Hospital, which is a secured facility.
To make room for those people, the department will be transferring about 25 nonviolent patients from Fulton to the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Kansas City. Seventy other nonviolent patients already have been moved from Fulton to other department facilities in eastern Missouri.
The new patients at the Kansas City facility, which is opening an additional 15-bed unit, still will reduce the number of available beds for people with severe mental illness.
“We’re down to the nub,” said Dick Gregory, the Mental Health Department’s regional director. “Cutting back and cutting back. … We’re in retrenchment mode.”
Mental health advocates say the sex predators should be dealt with by the state’s courts and prisons, instead of taking spaces away from severely mentally ill patients.
“I understand why sexual predators should not be on the street, but they should not be taking up mental health beds,” said Guyla Stidmon, executive director of the Kansas City chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Missouri and Kansas are among 20 states that allow sexual predators to be committed to mental institutions after they serve prison sentences. While keeping those predators confined prevents them from being a danger to others on the outside, there is some question about how many will ever be rehabilitated enough to be freed.
A recent Associated Press investigation found that the average cost nationwide to keep sexual predators in mental institutions is about $96,000 per patient annually. Missouri’s rate is $98,915, while it would cost about $17,000 per inmate to keep them in prison.
When the Missouri program began in 1999, it had 19 patients. That number has grown to 155, and only two patients have fulfilled requirements necessary for supervised conditional release.
Some experts say sexual predators are difficult if not impossible to treat. That is frustrating to people like Stidmon and others who say many people with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be treated successfully when they have access to therapy, medication and inpatient care.
“They can become productive citizens,” Stidmon said. “But treatable illnesses are being ignored now. The sexual predators are really getting the best care.”
Here is the link to the original article.
- Mental Health Units Providing ‘Poor’ Care (news.sky.com)
- Sex predator dismisses wage lawsuit against Wash. (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- You: Audit Unveils Gaps in the Mental Health ACT – TopNews United Kingdom (news.google.com)
- New survey of psychiatric nurses highlights their role in patient care, professional challenges and desire to do more (eurekalert.org)
- Washington sex predators’ nurse license suspended (seattletimes.nwsource.com)