OLYMPIA – A unanimous House on Wednesday restricted outings by patients confined to state mental hospitals if those patients have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The legislation was prompted by last fall’s escape of Phillip Paul during a field trip of Eastern State Hospital patients to the Spokane Interstate Fair. Under the bill, such patients will need a court order except when leaving for medical treatment or the death of an immediate family member, and must always be kept in sight by staff when gone.
State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Greenacres and the bill’s sponsor, said it’s designed to reassure the public that such escapes won’t happen again and to send a message to the Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees Eastern State. House Bill 2717 now goes to the state Senate.
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