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Mental Hospitals

June 30, 2012 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
Charles Anthony Edwards III has spent his adult life cycling through prisons and state psychiatric hospitals. Calm and witty when well, the San Francisco native also was known to lash out: beating his mother and threatening to kill family members and strangers. When paroled in November 2010, he was diverted to Atascadero State Hospital. California prison officials had determined that the nature of Edwards' schizophrenia made him too dangerous for release. His return to society needed to be regimented and supervised.
June 17, 2012 | By Lee Romney and John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
A consultant who led the troubled effort to overhaul California's public psychiatric hospitals has played a lead role in federal reforms in at least five other states, where critics have raised similar concerns about cronyism and the quality of his work. Nirbhay Singh, a psychologist from Virginia, abruptly resigned from his California post last year after The Times asked state officials about rising violence in the hospitals and the state's hiring of Singh's family members. State mental health officials are now eliminating treatment approaches and elaborate paperwork that Singh imposed in a costly effort to satisfy a legal settlement between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice.
May 30, 2012 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
Eleven years ago, David Attias declared he was "the angel of death" and plowed his car into an Isla Vista, Calif., crowd, killing four pedestrians and severely injuring a fifth. On Tuesday, his attorney described Attias as a mentally ill young man who has made great strides in self-awareness and self-control, and he asked a judge to release Attias from Patton State Hospital, where he was sent after a jury found him legally insane in 2002. The same jury also found him guilty of four counts of second-degree murder in the incident near UC Santa Barbara.
April 15, 2012 | By Lee Romney and John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
When Garth Webb was sent to Napa State Hospital, his parents were relieved. The bellboy and amateur composer from Sebastopol had been in the throes of bipolar disorder when he was charged with threatening the lives of co-workers. His family encouraged him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, thinking that in a mental hospital he would get the treatment he needed. Instead, Webb and his parents say, he was repeatedly brutalized. His main tormentor, a patient in the room next door, assaulted him several times, wrapping him in a headlock and sexually abusing him. Soon after, the same man strangled a psychiatric worker on the hospital grounds.
January 24, 2012 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
California officials Monday filed documents in U.S. District Court opposing extended federal oversight of two state mental hospitals, arguing that new leaders have already taken measures to improve patient care and safety. The state attorney general's filing came in response to a scathing U.S. Justice Department portrayal last month of Napa State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. Federal attorneys faulted the hospitals for preventable suicides, nursing errors, improper use of restraints and unchecked violence.
December 13, 2011
We wouldn't presume to say whether John W. Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, should be allowed to spend more time outside the mental hospital where he has been confined for much of the last three decades. Hinckley has not committed any acts of violence on his furloughs from St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. On the other hand, according to a detailed report in the Washington Post, he has engaged in questionable behavior. But on one question we do have an opinion: Hinckley should be treated by a federal judge the same way any other patient in his position would be. Under the hospital's proposals, Hinckley would be able to visit his mother in Williamsburg, Va., twice for 17 days and six times for 24 days each year.
December 4, 2011 | By Lee Romney and John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a judge to extend federal oversight of two state mental hospitals, saying the facilities have failed to comply with critical provisions of a sweeping consent judgment imposed 5 1/2 years ago. In a filing late Friday night, federal officials detailed key failings at Napa State Hospital and Norwalk's Metropolitan State Hospital: preventable suicides, nursing errors leading to unnecessary suffering, improper use...
November 15, 2011 | By John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
Two California mental hospitals have been released from federal oversight, ending a five-year court-ordered reform effort that implemented major changes in patient treatment. Atascadero State Hospital and Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino will no longer be subject to a consent judgment on patient care that state and federal officials reached in 2006, according to an order issued Monday by a federal judge in Los Angeles. But Chief U.S District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins extended the consent judgment until Dec. 2 for two other hospitals — Napa State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk.
August 24, 2011 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento -- At an Assembly committee hearing on safety issues at the state's mental hospitals, lawmakers Tuesday received testimony about faulty alarm systems, daily assaults and an increasing number of patients with criminal histories. Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) convened the Select Committee on Hospital Safety to explore solutions to violence at California's five psychiatric facilities. "All you need to know is that last year we had over 8,000 aggressive incidents and over 5,000 injuries," said Allen, a former psychiatric nurse.
August 5, 2011 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Francisco -- Michael Allen slipped on a pair of blue jeans and a short-sleeved polo shirt, forgoing his customary suit. On this day, he would not be the Santa Rosa assemblyman who has championed safety at the state's mental hospitals — documenting the tales of staff members who have been kicked, punched, bitten or splashed with bodily fluids by some of California's most troubled patients. When the former psychiatric nurse passed behind the barbed-wire fencing of Napa State Hospital, where patients who have been accused or convicted of crimes are housed, he was introduced as "Michael," a volunteer there to watch and listen.
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