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Definitions of insanity

A highly useful read today in the Oregonian following up on what happens after the criminally accused take an insanity defense – as in guilty except for – and what happens afterward.

Not always, it turns out, what they or many other people think.

For one thing, a good many of the people who are detained and hospitalized are held for a very long time – in a number of cases, a good deal longer than a full prison term might have run. Some of the reasons involve delays in paperwork processing.

And the cost is very high.

The article notes that “At the same time Oregon taxpayers are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into treating a few hundred criminally insane patients in the state hospital, thousands more sit in prison with limited mental health treatment, and thousands more live on the street with no treatment at all.”

And: “More than half the inmates in Oregon prisons have some kind of mental health diagnosis, and nearly one-quarter have high to severe treatment needs, according to the Department of Corrections.”

Again leading to the thought that if more treatment were available earlier in the process, some the high expenses that come later could be averted.

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2 Comments

  1. fortboise fortboise February 13, 2011

    I was expecting something about “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” which you didn’t talk about … explicitly.

    But if our health care “system” were a person, we’d have it committed, wouldn’t we? Locked up as criminally insane.

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