When repeat sex offender Todd McElroy neared parole after serving 16 years for raping a boy, Rhode Island’s governor directed state officials to put the man in a mental hospital. Dr. Brandon Krupp, who ran the hospital’s psychiatric services, opposed the decision, saying it would not protect the public and could put other patients at risk, reports the Associated Press. Other doctors backed him up, arguing the plan would be expensive and likely ineffective. “Doctors aren’t jailers,” Krupp said in an interview shortly after resigning last month. “Hospitals aren’t prisons.”
No one knows what to do with potentially dangerous sex offenders. About 5 percent of sex offenders commit another sex crime within three years of their release from prison, says the U.S. Department of Justice. Seventeen states allow holding sex offenders who have completed their prison terms. Governors in other states also have tried to use mental health laws to keep sex offenders in psychiatric hospitals once their prison terms end. In Rhode Island, H. Reed Cosper, the state mental health advocate who was once McElroy’s lawyer, supported keeping McElroy hospitalized because he is mentally ill and dangerous and would benefit from continued treatment. Krupp said McElroy’s schizophrenia is under control, and he doesn’t belong in a hospital. McElroy lives in a 16-bed ward and has access to a day room, nurses’ station, and the outside. Because McElroy is free to wander, Krupp worries about the safety of other patients and the public.