I would welcome a well run secure home in my neighborhood. A level of quality supervision would need to be assured. I believe that people are happier, less stressed and safer when they are living in an environment of respect, choices and freedoms. Of course individuals who have acted in a way that has resulted in serious harm to others will have their choices and freedom limited (like a secured home and community supervision).
We hear from our mass media system of all of terrible cases of victimization but rarely of the successes of those who have recovered from mental illness. That creates a "normal" of fear in all of us. Ironically, by shutting these people out (in institutions, not allowing a less restrictive, but secure place to live) we are perpetuating the disfunction, fear and mental illness of our people and our society.
-Mike Patton, Rehab Therapist at OSH
I must say that I would also welcome a closely monitored and secure home in my neighborhood.
At any given moment, there are sex offenders in my neighborhood already not to mention federal prisons and people wandering the streets.
An attempt to help rehabilitate any criminal is a major leap forward in the way we deal with criminals. Clearly the current method we use to deal with sex offenders and criminals does not work and most often they are turned back loose on the streets in worse shape then they began only to create more crimes.
I find it sad that the an attempt to help make positive change has been halted due to uneducated fears. These will not be open facilities where the criminals can just walk free. The greater fear in my opinion is if the criminal justice system remains as it is which is clearly broken and does nothing more then make criminals worse off then they were to begin with.
To answer the question about whether there's greater concern than the actual threat, just look at the data and make a rational decision. It is very clear. These kinds of facilities are very carefully planned, people who move in are very carefully treated, screened, approved and monitored. These people are your friends, your neighbors and your relatives. When California passed Proposition 63 a few years ago, surveys showed that 47% of people acknowledged that they or a member of their immediate family had been directly affected by a person with a major mental illness. We've got to remove the stigma and fear and get real.
The United States Department of Justice has already determined that the care and conditions at Oregon State Hospital violate patient?s safety and their constitutional right to good care. Will a federal lawsuit be required to correct the deficiencies? When correctional institutions are faced with similar federal lawsuits because of over crowding they are forced to release inmates to the streets. Oregonians are concerned about their safety. The question is will they be safer having someone under the supervision of the PSRB in a supervised residential facility or having that person simply released to live on their own?
Yes, it is vital for people to work toward better care options. Oregonians can learn real facts and can learn about real problems/ barriers/ solutions/ successes. Laws about confidentiality may complicate some public discussions, but that's not reason to give up. We must adopt or adapt what is working in other places, and develop new ideas as well. A NIMBY stance may seem clear, yet there are so many ways to avoid facing reality: elected officials? zoning laws? taxes and funding controversies?
Yes, some people have been convicted of crimes and found guilty but for insanity. Even more people have significant mental health problems but haven't received services and don't have appropriate diagnosis or treatment. Some of these people are impulsive, anxious, vulnerable, angry... factors that influence their decisions... including wrong decisions related to sexual activity.
There's another group of sometimes invisible people - those who have mental retardation or other developmental disabilities.
... and some of the people in groups described above have needs due to substance abuse. This can range from one-time impaired thinking to full-blown addictions. These problems, too, must be addressed effectively in large and small communities, in families, in faith groups, in and out of jails and prisons.
How might PTA, school, and faith groups make a difference? How might individuals help?
The fact is that people can recover. The alternative is to keep people locked in the state hospital at $150,000 per year costs to taxpayers which benefits no one, while at the same time people who need treatment wander the streets without supervision. More people under proper treatment is a better answer. Most with mental illness that is treated properly are model citizens. The public is suffering from irrational fear and lack of knowledge about the problem. I personally know two former patients that I would love to have as neighbors.
The point about the cost is not to save the state money but to provide treatment to more who need treatment in a more effective manner. Even if federal money pays part of the costs, we still foot the bill as taxpayers.
Lest some of your listeners would think that the majority of Fossil residents who opposed this facility are a group of unfriendly, fearful Oregonians, let?s be clear that our local concerns have been based largely on the severe impact this facility would have on our community due to its remote location and small population.
The definition of civilly insane sex offenders states that such persons are a danger to themselves and/or to others. A community of just a few hundred people ? in our case, 400 persons ? simply isn?t large enough for effective assimilation of such sex offenders into our local society.
Fossil and similar rural communities of this size cannot offer job opportunities, discreet socialization experiences, or promises of anonymity for these committed persons. We have no police department, a tiny volunteer ambulance, limited medical services and inadequate law enforcement.
?Out of sight, out of mind? placement in the smallest, most distant Oregon places isn?t fair to these communities and also places unfair limitations on the care and societal opportunities needed by the mentally ill.
Thank you Lynn for pointing out that the majority of people in Wheeler County who opposed the facility are not unfriendly and fearful. It is true, there were only a handful that fit that description. Based on the number of phone calls I have received from both people for and against I would have to agree that the majority are horrified at the actions of a few of our residents. Even if we omit the phone calls I have received, if we look at the statistics, 2/3 of the surveys sent to every mail box in Wheeler County were unreturned indicating that some people might have thrown them away before reading them, some people didn?t care one way or the other and some people wanted more information before the committed one way or the other. Of the 1/3 that returned 50% were for and the other half were against. Wheeler County is like most other places, we have both good and bad and everything in between, but as a whole we are not unfriendly or overly fearful.
One thing that you did forget is that Wheeler County is not 400 people, your information is only the Fossil city demographics, not the surrounding farm residents or the other two city demographics. Bringing 15 jobs into our community/Wheeler County would have provided the jobs, enhanced our services and our schools. The reasons you are providing for why we shouldn?t have housed the facility here are the exact same reasons I believed we should have brought the facility here.
We have a trained county sheriff department and access to state police. We have a medical clinic that serves all three communities and is ever expanding the kinds of services they provide Wheeler County. True our ambulance service is small but they do a fine job and this opportunity would have brought more money into our community which in turn would have helped our service providers expand. It almost feels like you and I live in two different communities.
Finally, I never once got the feeling this was an ?out of sight, out of mind proposal?. It was a well thought out, well funded and if facts are correct well monitored opportunity. Unfortunately what has been missing all along is the real facts about this proposal.
I live in Wilsonville near the old state hospital. The new development, Villebois, is required to have housing for the mentally ill. I attended a meeting a few years ago about that housing. At that meeting, I welcomed the housing but spoke about the vital need for services to be in place before the housing: bus service, pharmacies, doctors and stores. Unfortunately, none of those services are in place although it appears some group treatment homes are in place. I believe the provision of services makes the housing safer.
Why does a new facility even need to be constructed? Wapato is a treatment facility that is unused and for pennies on the dollar (vs. new construction costs) could acommodate the special needs of these offenders. Any thoughts?
Ultimately it is not in the best interest of taxpayers or persons receiving treatment to keep people with mental illnesses in exile. Community reintegration helps people progress, maintain the changes they make, and build healthier lives. Institutions are often dehumanizing to those who live there and present formidable barriers to progress.
I am a mental health professional familiar with these discussions. They often remain at a rather shallow level. What get missed is the public's interest in effective treatment. Effective treatment is the best protection for public safety. It is expensive to keep potentially dangerous people in high security settings. State law mandates, for the sake of civil liberties, that these individuals be evaluated periodically for their dangerousness. Without this we are subject to use of the mental health system in service of totalitarianism, and as a weapon of the weak against the strong.
I meant to say of the strong against the weak.
I bought a house in NE Portland 10 years ago and unbeknowst to me, there was a treatment home for juvenile sex offenders just a block away. In those years, there has been no problem created by the residents of that home. They are always accompanied when in the neighborhood, which includes many children. I operate a shelter for homeless, mentally ill, women, many of whom have substance abuse issues. We have had great success with a 'housing first' model, which wraps services around these women while they secure and retain community housing. On another note, I have spend much time in Fossil and have seem my share of inappropriate behavior from the existing residents, including public intoxication, illegal drug use and felons with open warrants in the local 'pub.' At least in a group home, you know where the offenders are living. It is a falicy to assume there is no crime in a small town, rather sex offenders already live there. The difference is that residents don't KNOW who they are or where they live.
How can people say they are concerned for human well being when they don't have all of the picture. Some of these people have not committed crimes. Others have committed small crimes. I guess if people are mentally ill, they are less than human!
A few comments:
In response to advocate's comment below who stated, "I personally know two former patients that I would love to have as neighbors." Can you think of more than two current patients that you would not like to have as neighbors?
Fossil is a town so small it actually classified as "frontier" rather than rural. We do not have adequate police, emergency medical, fire and medical services to support a facility of this nature.
Although, Mr. Cutsforth characterized the opposition to this project as rather violent and renegade, not everyone who is opposed, or even the majority of the people who are opposed to the facility, fit this description. We simply wanted our questions and concerns addressed openly before the project was a done deal. Despite the suggestion that people found out about the facility before MWBH wanted us to, the first that I heard of this facility was the letter sent by MWBH themselves.
I'm also generally concerned with officials attempting to describe the patients of the proposed facility in Wheeler County in innocuous terms and repeating that they are not criminals in an attempt to minimize public concerns, while at the same time saying that they are a danger to themselves and others (which is how "civally committed" has been defined to me by MWBH officials) and that they would be sex offenders who may have committed crimes as serious as rape and child molestation (which is what MWBH representatives stated as possibilites for the "sexually inappropriate behavior" referenced in their letter to the public).
I have been waiting for someone to say that the reason for the locked door was due to the safety of the patients themselves. I feel that they have skirted the real issue. If the doors are locked they are dangerous, simple as that and should not be allowed in our community. I have been a victim of abuse and if this would happen in my neighborhood, I would be devastated. This devastation happened in part due to people like this. Why are people talking about their freedoms and rights and comforts? Where are mine?
I have no arguement against anyone who haven't commited crimes. I would welcome a home for people who are safe to the community and certainly believe that we as a society need to understand more about mental health.
Thoughts on your web text and the moderator?s comments for the program:
Your piece uses the term criminally insane---where does the term criminally insane come from? How does it mean? Is it a legal term? What stigma does it carry? Are there less loaded, more accurate terms----?persons guilty except for insanity??
There were about 4,500 individuals released from Oregon prisons every year---contrast this to about 120 individuals who were released from PSRB jurisdiction... Isn?t the very low rate of recidivism paramount to discussion---the 10 year rate for PSRB is about 2.5% and the rate people coming out of prisons is about 30%. Who should I be scared of? Isn?t the much higher risk (10-15 times) not from people who are mentally ill, but people from prison?
Why do people have fears that are disconnected from facts?
What is the history/context of mental illness in this country? Of stigma? Of fear? What is or isn?t true about people with mental illness? What risk do they pose? Shouldn?t your discussion press these questions?
Do facts matter? What drives our prejudices? What drives our fears? Why aren?t our communities clamoring about the dramatically higher levels they face from offenders coming out prison in living right next door to them, without them even knowing?
Our law enforcement community has made official statements that the perception of fear is what should drive our system. Is this good/appropriate public policy?
On the legal front, where is your discussion of the legal rights of people who are mentally ill? What about the Olmstead case which held that we can?t institutionalize individuals if they aren?t dangerous? In the 1960?s we had similar arguments about having black people as neighbors??how is this similar/different? Don?t we need to press for the facts, to see what?s real?
Please have another show on facts!
You?re missing the boat OPB (big time). The elephant in the room is not what you?re discussing. It?s about an ability to address how fear and not facts shape our public discourse---and how far off we from understanding mental illness in our society. I am very disappointed that you have not done enough homework to reach the issues we face.
Please read Andy Parker?s Oregonian piece from June 2-----he was driving at many points you are missing.
As I listen to this program you?re mired in details in today?s discussion. They are not unimportant, but are far less important than centuries of fear and stigma we inherit about mental illness. Your moderator just said of people leaving the Oregon State Hospital and headed to the community: "not of all them are dangerous"......Let's take a look at the premise in her statement. Are these individuals dangerous? Dangerous by whose definition? Compared to whom? An open ended fear trigger, pulled by the host, to end the show. Not good journalism.
Please OPB, you can and must do better. Oregonians expect and need this from you.
I have to agree that the tone was oriented to the "danger to everyone" and the "publics safety". The facts about the nature of the threat are overblown. Would the sheriff go door to door warning of "crack houses" that are known to be in the neighborhood? It seems as though the safety of the neighborhood is in question when someone is trying to make a situation as controlled as possible. For that effort they are rewarded with "safety hysteria." promoted by those who are supposed to protect the public. The sheriff misses the real threats to his community.
But the real question was never really answered. Why were the doors locked? The answered was danced around and it was obvious that the people who were to occupy this particular house were not just a danger to themselves. Until its a matter of public record, what "crimes" were committed, its only natural for people (not to mention paerents) to be extremely concerned. Its human instinct to want to protect yourself and children. To override that you need to be very CLEAR as to what is going on in that house. I firmly believe that if your are deemed criminally insane because you tried to commit suicide then it is no ones business, that is to say if your mental health issues are not dangerous to anyone else. It is plainly obvious that the people that would reside in this house have commited crimes "against others". I believe that's should be the determining factor as to whether or not a sheriff should be allowed to warn others. Given the information and circumstances, I applaud his efforts.
Go drewvillegas! I can't help but think back to what we have done to all people who are different, whether race, mental retardation, or mental illness. The state of Oregon is way behind the times in treatment of the mentally ill and they should be applauded that they are trying to move things ahead. Every article that I've read on this topic has used fear as an eye getter. The East Oregonian started their off with "Home For the Criminally Insane to Open!" The Oregonian has used similar. OPB is at least getting some different parties involved. If people could just understand! I have a mentally ill family member. I have been to the state hospital and that is not the place I want my family member to be. Not because the staff are uncaring, but because of the overcrowding, the stigma, and the age of the building. People only consider the mentally ill when it relates to them. So, do they deserve to be in jail because they are suicidal? That does meet the definition of "criminally insane" It is against the law to attempt suicide. What about being so depressed you don't leave the house and someone in your family civilly commits you for your safety? Does that mean you deserve to share a room with 3-4 other people? In Salem. I can gaurantee that not every mentally ill person is from the Salem/Portland area. Look at your current neighbors. What are you turning a blind eye to now?
I am one of the people in Wheeler County who saw this opportunity to host a secure residential treatment facility as just that: an opportunity. Wheeler County is a small struggling rural community. Our schools have so few students that the grades are combined and the classes offered are the bare minimum necessary to provide a basic education. There are almost no job opportunities available if families did want to move in and the stagnant economy is pretty bleak. This facility would have been a push in the right direction by adding approximately fifteen jobs, hiring both local people and possibly incoming people with children to help support our schools. The financial gain for our community potentially could have enhanced our schools, our businesses, our service departments as well as the overall financial status of some of our residents. Equally as important, Wheeler County would have been doing the right thing. We would have been giving as well as taking. Right now in Wheeler County if there is a crime committed, we have no jails or prisons. If someone breaks the law we have to send them out of county. Wheeler County has no hospitals or mental health residential treatment options. If someone needs these services we prevail upon neighboring communities to provide it. By putting this facility in, we would be doing our part as a member of our greater community and state. We would have been closer to a viable community. Finally, the residents of this proposed facility are human beings with mental illness. Many of which would never have committed any crimes if not for their mental illness/psychotic episodes. While their crimes may inhibit their safety and the safety of others if they are out in the general population, providing a secure facility for them to live is the right thing to do. Having that facility in Wheeler County would not have compromised our safety in any way as Wheeler County is and never has been any safer per capita than any other place. I believe strongly Wheeler County missed the boat on so many levels. Thank you for the opportunity to have a voice. Maryhelen Peterson
It is a little late in this discussion but I need to clarify something. Wheeler County Sheriff Dave Rouse did not resign because of the incidents around the secure residential treatment facility. There were several factors involved in his dicision process that did not include the SRTF at all. I would never pretent to be a spokes person for Dave, but I did know him and worked with him for a number of years. His reasons for leaving were personal and the opportunity to enhance his career.
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