"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

No more field trips for you

And maybe sometimes micromanaging is what a legislature has to do.

A long-standing, fairly normal part of long-term mental health treatment for many patients has been field trips. (Remember the trip in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?) Not hard to see how such trips can be beneficial, and why they’ve been done for a long time. And why they should be.

But then you run into this:

Last September 19, the Washington Eastern State Hospital conducted a field trip to a Spokane fair for some of the patients. One of those patients was Phillip Michael Paul, 47, who in 1987 was determined not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of an elderly woman. In 1981, he escaped but was recaptured. So last fall, he and various other patients were taken to the Spokane fair . . . and Paul escaped. He was at large for several days before recapture.

Now, Representative Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, has proposed a bill to prohibit field trips for patients who are in mental institutions because they have violent histories.

You wouldn’t think that would be necessary. But apparently it is.

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