- Associated Press - Friday, May 9, 2014

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A federal lawsuit filed against the state alleges that three people locked up in state mental hospitals after being found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity are being treated like prisoners instead of patients.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, wants the court to overturn a 2010 law that restricts outings for so-called forensic patients, who are confined after an insanity acquittal or for evaluation or treatment of mental illness before trial. That law only allows patients to leave on court-approved release, for medical or legal appointments or in cases of illness or death in the family.

The News Tribune of Tacoma also reports (http://bit.ly/Qn5DY7) that the lawsuit challenges another law creating an advisory panel to review releases, along with practices of the state Department of Social and Health Services, including shackling.

The lawsuit cites one patient at Western State Hospital in Lakewood who is stable, but who has been denied field trips and escorted walks on the hospital’s grounds.

“Plaintiffs and other forensic patients are trapped,” the lawsuit states. “Rather than being treated, gradually reintegrated into the community, and eventually released, they are simply warehoused in state mental hospitals.”

The restrictions were a result of a 2009 incident when a schizophrenic killer walked away from an Eastern State Hospital trip to the Spokane County fair in 2009 and spent three days on the loose. He was recaptured 200 miles away, but the Legislature voted unanimously to end such outings.

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Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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