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Paul escape prompts release-restrictions law

OLYMPIA – A bill sparked by the escape of an Eastern State Hospital patient during a field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair was signed into law Wednesday.

House Bill 2717, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, severely limits the reasons for trips away from the hospital for patients who avoided criminal prosecution because they were found not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial. Phillip Paul, who had been ruled criminally insane after killing a Yakima woman in 1987, was on a field trip to the fair with other patients last September when he escaped; he was captured three days later near Goldendale, Wash.

Under the new law, such patients will be allowed to leave the hospital for needed medical treatment, visit a seriously ill relative, attend a relative’s funeral or when the trip is authorized by the court.


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