The number of patients in California’s mental hospitals who have committed crimes has been rising. Now they represent more than 90 percent of the population. The Los Angeles Times says the dramatic trend has brought an increasing level of violence to the hospitals, including vicious attacks on patients and hospital employees.?? Staff members have urged state officials to improve security at the hospitals to no avail.
The slaying of a state hospital psychiatric technician two months ago has emboldened angry employees to go public with their demands.?? The outcry has captured the attention of at least three state lawmakers who plan to press for significant changes. Sen. Sam Blakeslee said he was shocked by the rising degree of danger. “This level of violence is unacceptable,” he said.?? The unions that represent hospital employees are working together to craft legislation that calls for high-security units at each hospita for the most predatory patients, expedited hearings to medicate those who are violent and a streamlined process to transfer dangerous criminals sent for treatment by the corrections system back to prison.?? The violence is spurring a debate on the viability of the mental hospital system’s core philosophy – to maintain a treatment environment that does not resemble prison.??