OLYMPIA — Two bills sparked by an Eastern State Hospital patient’s escape during a Spokane County Fair field trip last September moved easily through the Senate Thursday.
Philip Paul was part of an Eastern State group visiting the fair when he slipped away from the other patients and staff, and left the fairgrounds. Police were not notified for hours that Paul, who was at Eastern State after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of a murder charge,escaped and was loose in the community. He was captured three days later, near Yakima.
House Bill 2422, requires hospital staff to contact law enforcement after an escape, passed 47-0. and goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature. “When a convicted murderer escapes and no one takes responsibility, something is wrong,” Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said.
House Bill 2717, which limits the opportunities for criminally insane patients to leave state hospitals unless approved by a judge or for a family emergency, passed 48-0. It returns to the House because of minor amendments included in the Senate version.