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Mental Hospitals

July 14, 2011 | By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
An Orange County judge has ordered a convicted serial rapist committed to a mental hospital, possibly for life, after a jury found that he continues to be a threat to society. On Monday, a jury unanimously reached the determination against Dougal Samuels, 55, after a monthlong civil commitment trial. Samuels was convicted in 1989 of raping two women and sexually assaulting two others in Orange County. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and has been in the custody of the state Department of Mental Health since 1996.
May 17, 2011 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
A new state department would be formed to manage California's violence-plagued mental hospitals under a proposal in the governor's Monday budget revision. The push to create a Department of State Hospitals — and eventually do away with the Department of Mental Health, which now oversees the facilities — comes as lawmakers and employee unions press for changes to address increasing patient assaults on fellow patients and staff. The budget document, known as the May revise, also includes $9.5 million for security teams at three of the facilities and an alarm system at Napa State Hospital, where a psychiatric technician was strangled in October.
May 16, 2011 | Lee Romney
Nearly eight months after a Napa State Hospital patient strangled a psychiatric technician, lawmakers and employee groups are pushing proposals aimed at reversing a worsening safety trend at California's mental health facilities. Among them are bills that would enable officials to better assess patients' potential for violence, speed up the process to involuntarily medicate certain individuals and punish those who funnel contraband -- such as tobacco and cash -- to patients, feeding a black market that goes hand-in-hand with assault and extortion.
May 3, 2011 | By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
A former candidate for the Thousand Oaks City Council has been sentenced to six years and four months in prison for threatening to kill six prosecutors in the Ventura County district attorney's office. Danny Avila was sentenced Monday after being convicted last month of six counts of making criminal threats and six counts of threatening public officials for threatening the prosecutors from jail in 2008. Avila ran for City Council in 2004. He was charged with hacking into the Verizon wireless system and sending bogus text messages to thousands of residents between midnight and 4 a.m. in the name of a fellow candidate.
April 14, 2011 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
California workplace safety officials have issued $100,000 in fines against Napa State Hospital in connection with the October slaying of a psychiatric technician, contending that the facility neglected to restrict the movements of violent patients — including the man charged in the strangling. Cal/OSHA issued the citations Tuesday against the beleaguered psychiatric hospital, which has experienced steep increases in the number of patient assaults on peers and staff despite a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit in 2006 to impose reforms there and at three other state hospitals.
February 4, 2011 | By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times
A former California mental hospital director who prosecutors alleged had a history of sexually abusing young boys was convicted Thursday of molesting his son. A Long Beach jury found Claude Edward Foulk, 63, guilty on 31 counts of sexual molestation, including lewd acts on a child and sodomy by use of force. He was acquitted on four other counts. Now 27, his son, a former foster child who was later adopted by Foulk, testified that he was abused from age 9 until he fled home at 21. He said he was "beyond happy" at the verdict.
January 29, 2011 | Patt Morrison
Cartoons about mental health cover Elyn R. Saks' office door at USC. Not funny, you say? Oh yeah? Panel one: drowning man yelling to his collie, "Lassie, get help!" Panel two: Lassie, on the couch in a shrink's office. Saks deserves her laughs. The lawyer and law professor, author, MacArthur "genius" grant winner and head of USC's Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics has been on that couch -- and has probably hidden under it. Her book about life as a schizophrenic, "The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness," is as ferocious and droll as Saks herself.
January 28, 2011 | By Lee Romney and John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
A Virginia psychologist who earned millions of dollars as a consultant to California's mental hospitals over nearly nine years has abruptly announced his resignation at a time when the facilities are struggling with increasing violence and staff dissent. Nirbhay Singh was a key architect of the state's plan to transform care at the hospitals, which mostly treat severely mentally ill patients accused or convicted of crimes, to give patients more control of their treatment. His resignation, which is effective Tuesday, comes less than two weeks after The Times interviewed a top state Department of Mental Health official about his performance and role.
January 24, 2011 | Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times
An Aurora Las Encinas Hospital employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the owners of the Pasadena mental hospital, alleging that top company officials have defrauded the federal government by providing "minimal, substandard care" to patients. The lawsuit, filed last year under seal in U.S. District Court, recently was made public. The suit marks the latest in a series of complaints about care at the psychiatric hospital known for decades as a destination for wealthy and famous patients seeking mental health help and treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.
January 1, 2011 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
For years, the number of patients in the state's mental hospitals who have committed crimes has been rising. Today, they represent more than 90% of the population. That dramatic trend has brought an increasing level of violence to the hospitals, including vicious attacks on patients and hospital employees.?? As assaults rose, staff members privately urged state officials to improve security at the hospitals to no avail, documents show. But the slaying of a Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician two months ago has emboldened angry employees to go public with their demands.
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