FEPTOPP

PRESENTATION TO MENTAL HEALTH ACCOUNTABILITY & OVERSIGHT COMMISSION

PRESENTATION TO MENTAL HEALTH

ACCOUNTABILITY & OVERSIGHT COMMISSION

SAN FRANCISCO MARRIOT MARQUIS HOTEL

JULY 25, 2013

I am here today representing Families for the Ethical Psychiatric Treatment of Patients

and Prisoners (FEPTOPP). This presentation will take five minutes.

I have three matters I wish to present to this Oversight Committee that concern the

administration of the state mental hospitals.

The first matter is the failure of the state hospitals to commit to the Recovery Model of

treatment for mental disorders. Up until recently, the state hospitals gave lip service to

the Recovery Model of treatment, a movement that came from the “ground up’ composed

of people and their families who had first hand experience with the mental health system.

The Recovery Model originated from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program and

emphasized family support and relationships, empowerment, and coping strategies.

However, with the recent reorganization of the Department of Mental Health and

Department of State Hospitals, all reference to the Recovery Model of treatment has been

dropped. The new mantra is “Evidence-Based Medicine”. But Evidence Based Medicine

relies heavily on Randomized Controlled Trials, which have been shown to be dominated

by the pharmaceutical industry and as such are fundamentally flawed by selection bias,

non-equivalent dosing, concomitant medications, placebo washout, Last Observation

Carried Forward analysis, unblinding, omission of data, biased assessment, post hoc

selection of end points, redundant publication, selective emphasis of findings, and

publication bias. According to the DMH website, “the goal of the Clinical Operations

Division is to modify our culture to a “ground up” change model….” But, in reality, we

see the state moving away from the ground up model and toward a model that has been

shown to be flawed, dominated by the profit interests of Big Pharma, and unsuitable

for psychiatric practice. Therefore, our first demand is that the state re-embrace the

concept of the Recovery Model of treatment for mental disorders and actually take steps

to implement the program at the clinical level.

The second matter concerns the administration of the Mentally Disordered Offender

Law. Specifically, we address the failure of the state hospitals to release Mentally

Disordered Offenders when they have reached a state of remission of their mental

disorder. The Mentally Disordered Offender Law, passed into law in 1986, contains a

clause, Penal Code Section 2968, that states the following:

“If the prisoner’s severe mental disorder is put into remission during the

parole period, and can be kept in remission, the Director of Mental

health shall notify the Board of Prison Terms and the State Department

of Mental Health shall discontinue treating the parolee.”

This section of the MDO law has never been enforced. Parolees found to be MDO’s

are committed to the state hospitals for periods of one year at a time. But, instead of

releasing patients when they are found to be in remission, the state hospitals continue

to hold them until their one year period of commitment is up. The result is an average

overstay in the hospital of 6 months per inmate. Besides violating the liberty interests of

the patient, this practice is hugely expensive to California taxpayers, resulting in excess

and illegal costs that we estimate at 14 Billion dollars over the past 28 years since the

law was passed. Therefore, our second demand is that the state hospitals enforce Penal

Code Section 2968 and release MDO patients when they reach remission – not at the end

of their commitment period. Furthermore, the administrators who made the conscious

decision not to enforce this section of the MDO law should be fined and jailed for the

false imprisonment of patients who were, and continue to be, forcibly held against their

will. Those administrators consist of all past and present persons who served as Medical

and Executive Directors of the hospitals and their superiors up the chain of command at

the Department of Mental Health.

The third matter is the cover-up of the cause of death of inmates who die in state

hospitals. Because of past abuses that took place in the California state mental hospitals,

including forced sterilization of tens of thousands of patients, horrible medical

experiments that caused painful deaths, and abuse and neglect generally, state laws have

been enacted that mandate an investigation into the death of any inmate who dies in a

state hospital (See, for example, California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4137

and California Government Code Section 27491). The state hospitals are not following

this law, and are covering up the cause of death of inmates caused by the effects of

the neuroleptic drugs they have been forced to take. Several tactics are used to avoid

these investigations. Sometimes a patient is shipped out to a local community hospital

shortly before death and the emergency room doctor at that hospital signs the death

certificate, thus enabling the state hospital to evade the letter of the law requiring an

investigation. Sometimes the cause of death is simply not listed on the death certificate,

or the medical history relevant to the cause of death is omitted. Implicated in this illegal

practice are county coroners, county sheriffs, county District Attorneys, the Attorney

General, as well as the mental health authorities themselves. The state officials in

law enforcement have been notified of these crimes and refused to act, violating their

sacred responsibility to the people of California. By these illegal practices, the medical

information disclosing the harmful effects of these drugs is kept from the general public,

thus causing widespread public health harm to the entire population. Therefore, our

third demand is that a statewide grand jury be empanelled to investigate and report

on the extent of these crimes, and that the state officials involved in their perpetration and

cover-up be charged and brought to justice as the only effective method of stopping this

abuse of medical prisoners.

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