Letter to the Editor

Lose-lose situation

Rohnert ParkMay 9, 2014 

I can’t understand why patients in Atascadero State Hospital have been arrested and charged with suspicion of conspiracy, assault, battery and resisting an officer. Presumably, these patients are hospitalized because they are mentally ill, and not competent to stand trial or to aid in their own defense.

Our insanity defense requires that clean and convincing evidence show that when the crime was committed, the defendant was unable to appreciate the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of his acts. Why spend taxpayer money prosecuting the mentally ill? Even though they were known to be mentally ill while committing the alleged crime?

We have all read of abuses suffered by the mentally ill in some state hospitals. They are dangerous places for patients and staff alike. Too little money, too few outpatient services and emergency beds exist, making it easier to shut these people away, where we never have to think about them again.

I hope the District Attorney’s Office in San Luis Obispo County sees this for the lose-lose situation it is, and that the charges are dropped. Furthermore, I hope they look into the conditions at Atascadero, and remedy what went wrong, allowing this situation to ever occur.

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