OLYMPIA – Statement from Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma) on capture of escaped Western State Hospital patients:
“I am relieved to hear both men who escaped together from Western State Hospital have now been found. Thankfully, it sounds like no one was harmed by these two men while they were on the run.
“These two patients were charged with committing violent crimes and found by a court to be incompetent to stand trial. They were sent to Western State to get the treatment they needed.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated event. This is the third time in five years a potentially-dangerous patient has escaped from the hospital, and inside the hospital there have been numerous reports of staff being assaulted by patients with severe mental illnesses.
“These are all symptoms of our broken mental health care system. We’ve made progress in the last two years by reinvesting more money into mental health care, working toward the goals of providing the care that patients need and keeping both patients and staff safe. But we need to do more to keep our communities safe by identifying and treating offenders whose violence is related to mental illness.
“Under the leadership of my colleague Rep. Christine Kilduff (D – University Place), the state capital budget included more than $2 million in upgrades at Western State, including funding for more competency restoration beds and a new civil ward, like the one where these two men were receiving treatment. We also invested in more staff and training at Western State through the operating budget.
“This incident reminds us that there is still a long way to go. I’m pleased that the Senate bill I worked to pass with my Republican colleagues means that the legislative and executive branches will be working more closely to provide Washingtonians the mental health care they expect and deserve.”