State Senate OKs Blakeslee's bill on contraband in state hospitals

A bill to increase safety at state hospitals, including Atascadero State Hospital, has passed the California Senate.

The bill by Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, would make it a misdemeanor to provide contraband, such as cigarettes, currency, or wireless communication devices, to patients.

“Contraband continues to be a significant problem in the state hospital system,” said Coby Pizzotti from the California State Law Enforcement Association. “It creates a transactional environment within the facility, which often leads to violent assaults on patients and staff.”

In a news release, Blakeslee’s staff said they hope the legislation will “help curb the violent confrontations that often occur over such items” and discourage hospital black markets.

“With violence in state hospitals on the rise, we must implement policies that improve safety for patients and staff,” Blakeslee said in the news release.

Smugglers would be fined up to $1,000 for each offense.

The bill now goes to the state Assembly.