Hiring freeze at Atascadero State Hospital lifted

April 18, 2011

In response to a dramatic increase in violence at California mental hospitals, Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said Friday that she is lifting the current hiring freeze. [LATimes]

Her decision came a day after she visited Napa State Hospital where two deaths because of violence have occurred during the past six months.

Dooley  is looking into the complex problems that plague the state’s five psychiatric facilities where more than 80 percent of patients have been accused or convicted of crimes and a growing number have predatory tendencies.

Despite the state’s acute budget crisis, Dooley said to the LA Times, “I made the decision this week that there are real needs in the state hospitals, and we need to refill positions.”

The first new jobs will be at Napa State Hospital. Jobs will be added at other state hospitals within months.

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Don’t get me wrong, extra staff will help. The big problem is the fact that a lot of the men are criminals first and mentally ill second. Yet they are treated with kid gloves and have way to may rights and protections. Unless there is a court order, they can refuse meds and treatment. At the cost of $200, 000 tax payer dollars a year per patient, how many are actualy fixed and go on to lead productive lives in society? The hard question must be asked why are we wasting money trying to fix something that cant be fixed? Keep the hospitals sure. Just re format them with realistic expectations that they are a warehouse for damaged people.

“criminals first and mentally ill second”

I couldn’t agree with you more.

In legal theory a person who is really mentally ill is “incapable” of committing a crime.

Yet many mental cases execute crime with premediation or preparation and well crafted.

In fact, I’d go a step farther and do away with “not guilty by reason of insanity” and change it to “guilty but insane.” Under the current system, someone can be freed once they’re deemed “cured” by the shrinks. Wouldn’t it make more sense to convict a person of the crime that they committed (for whatever reason) and confine them to a mental hospital until they’re “cured,” at which point they’re transferred to prison. They get the treatment they need, but still have to answer for the crime.

This was precisely what I said in the last article. The increased violence is directly related to cutbacks I cited the 66 year old nurse that was beaten almost to death in another state facility, that was caused directly from being cut back to one guard to handle psychiatric patients that normally require at least two. The staff warned their supervisors but with this type of thing they can’t go above the supervisors head as they are labeled ‘whistle blowers’ and they will soon either lose thier job or be given the worse assignment possible. The powers that be need to go into these prisons and ask the employees ie guards and nurses what they need as opposed to listening to some hack sitting behind a desk in Sacramento. That’s how they can make the prisons safer and that’s also how they can learn about and eliminate govt. waste.