Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Saints Who Stole Christmas!

Last Friday (December 16) the Coalinga State Hospital Administration delivered Unit 10's annual Christmas tree. Afterwards, the Unit Residents, as a group, decorated the tree with plastic ornaments, colored lights and home-made decorations, all provided by the State.

Having completed the tree decoration, they were informed that they would have to take the lights off the tree because it was said to be a "fire hazard".

The consensus amongst the residents of the unit was that if they wanted the lights off the tree, then the Unit Supervisor could "get off her fat ass and do it herself".

So the Unit 10 Unit Supervisor as well as the Unit Supervisor from Unit 11 arrived at Unit 10 with their usual condescending, fake smiles. They then removed the offending lights from the Christmas tree.

At that point, the unit Residents became incensed, took a vote and unanimously decided that the Unit Supervisors should simply take the entire tree away. So, with the assistance of the Residents, the tree was removed entirely and flung down the hallway.

Within the hour, a fresh, natural Christmas tree had been replaced with a quickly improvised 10" green construction paper Christmas tree made by the Residents.

Immediately thereafter, one of the Residents, Mike St. Martin sent Hospital Director, Pam Ahlin, a Christmas card in which he lovingly wrote "Merry Fucking Christmas! I don't need to tell you where you can put your Christmas tree. Year-after-year, you continue to do the same thing and you're shocked when the outcome is the same."

Monday, the Program Director, Frances Hicks, attempted to return the Christmas tree to the unit and the unit unanimously refused to allow the tree to be put back up.

On Wednesday, Acting Unit Supervisor, Patricia Blevens ordered her staff to drag the tree back into Unit 10 and to decorate it but without the lights, still against the continued objections of the Residents. Again, this attempt was quickly aborted .

On Thursday, having finally given up in their attempts to impose the unlit tree upon Unit 10, Hospital staff drug the tree outside and put it into the dumpster.

It must be said that, this was not the first time a Christmas tree had been stripped of its lights in C.S.H.. Each Christmas since the Hospital opened, Hospital staff have carried out their own little unique Christmas ritual which involves visiting all units ands removing, with loving care, each of the little colored lights festooning the Christmas trees.

In so doing, they appear to be earnestly protecting the well-being of their little charges lest any of the trees should catch fire from the lights. This, despite the likely fact that all the loving staff have their own trees at home, brilliantly lit with cascades of brightly glowing, colored lights!

In this way, they demonstrate that they care more for the Hospital's residents than they do for their own children!

It's traditions like that that make Mike St. Martin refer to the D.M.H. as the "Department of Mental Disorder."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another Unnecessary Death At California's Coalinga State Hospital

Early Saturday morning, the 5th of March, 2011, Civil Detainee Victor Segovia died in California's Coalinga State Hospital. He had complained to medical staff of chest pains and difficulty breathing earlier in the evening but was left untreated and told to go to bed. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., he collapsed on the bathroom floor and, despite attempts by other Detainees to get him the timely medical attention he desperately needed, he did not receive it and died shortly thereafter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Illegal Monitoring and Recording of Cordless Phone Conversations in Civil Commitment "Hospitals"

[Ed: Please note, exceptions granted [below] to "correctional institutions" DO NOT include California's Department of Mental Health Coalinga State Hospital as this is NOT a correctional facility but a "civil detention facility" not for the purpose of punishing or "correcting" those locked-up within.

California Penal Code Section 632.6

(a) Every person who, maliciously and without the consent of
all parties to the communication, intercepts, receives, or assists
in intercepting or receiving a communication transmitted between
cordless telephones as defined in subdivision (c), between any
cordless telephone and a landline telephone, or between a cordless
telephone and a cellular telephone shall be punished by a fine not
exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), by imprisonment
in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison,
or by both that fine and imprisonment. If the person has been
convicted previously of a violation of Section 631, 632, 632.5,
632.7, or 636, the person shall be punished by a fine not exceeding
ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail
not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine
and imprisonment.
(b) This section shall not apply in any of the following
(1) To any public utility engaged in the business of providing
communications services and facilities, or to the officers,
employees, or agents thereof, where the acts otherwise prohibited are
for the purpose of construction, maintenance, conduct, or operation
of the services and facilities of the public utility.
(2) To the use of any instrument, equipment, facility, or service
furnished and used pursuant to the tariffs of the public utility.
(3) To any telephonic communications system used for communication
exclusively within a state, county, city and county, or city
correctional facility.
(c) As used in this section and in Section 635, "cordless
telephone" means a two-way low power communication system consisting
of two parts--a "base" unit which connects to the public switched
telephone network and a handset or "remote" unit--which are connected
by a radio link and authorized by the Federal Communications
Commission to operate in the frequency bandwidths reserved for
cordless telephones.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Interviews of offenders cut sharply

Critics say the change in policy may be illegal

The mental health experts who help decide whether convicted sex offenders are too dangerous to be released from custody used to rely heavily on face-to-face interviews.

They would travel to the prison, sit across a desk from the inmate in a tiny office and ask deeply personal questions about parents, siblings, puberty, sex. Many say it’s the best way to understand what makes someone tick.

Now the experts are more likely to sit at home and look at an inmate’s records on a computer screen.

That shift in policy may be illegal, critics say. It has prompted a local assemblyman to ask for a government audit and has raised concerns about the effectiveness of a program designed to protect the public from what are known formally as sexually violent predators.

“It’s gone from a very well-functioning program to just a disaster,” said a sex-offender evaluator who has worked on the program since its inception in 1996. She asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing state contracts. “The whole program is in disarray.”

Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mental Health, which runs the Sex Offender Commitment Program, denied that the new policy is illegal or that it has affected the quality of the evaluations. She said about 40 percent of the inmates refuse to be interviewed anyway.

Questions about the program are mounting in the wake of the slayings of Chelsea King, 17, of Poway and Amber Dubois, 14, of Escondido.

John Albert Gardner III, 30, a convicted sex offender, is charged with raping and killing Chelsea and is a focus of the Amber investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.

Critics say the commitment program is overwhelmed by Jessica’s Law, a crackdown on sex offenders approved by voters in November 2006.

The measure brought a tenfold increase in referrals from the prisons for psychological evaluations. But the number of offenders being sent to mental hospitals rather than being released has gone down, according to a data analysis by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Now some people want to know why.

“The state’s management of sex offenders has failed countless children over the years. This has to stop,” said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, whose district includes Chelsea’s family. He’s calling for a Bureau of State Audits investigation.

Fletcher’s concerns echo earlier complaints lodged by a San Francisco lawyer representing a group of private-contract psychologists and psychiatrists. They say they’re being pressured by program administrators to do cursory evaluations as a way to save money.

Commitment programs began in Washington state in 1990 and have spread to 20 states. California’s began in 1996.

The programs have always been controversial, flying in the face of America’s notion of itself as a land of liberty by locking up people for crimes they might commit.

The programs are expensive, too — roughly four times as costly as prison.

But they’re also popular with a public outraged by repeat offenders, and they’ve withstood legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

California’s program requires prison officials to red-flag sexually violent inmates when they’re nearing parole and refer them to the Department of Mental Health for an evaluation by two psychologists or psychiatrists.

A traditional evaluation involves a review of case files, an interview with the inmate in prison and a written report — a process that typically takes 20 to 30 hours, evaluators say.

If the evaluators disagree about an inmate’s prognosis, two more clinicians are brought in. If they also disagree, the offender is paroled.

That, in essence, is what happened with Gardner, although under a different program for mentally disordered offenders. Evaluators disagreed about the threat he posed after his 2000 conviction for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor, and he was released.

Inmates found to be a continuing danger are sent to court in the county where they were last convicted.

A judge or jury decides whether an inmate should be hospitalized.

In 2004 through 2006, there were 2,956 referrals from the prison system for Department of Mental Health evaluations, an average of 82 per month. In that same period, there were 71 commitments.

Jessica’s Law widened the net in late 2006. Only one offense was required to qualify for screening, instead of the previous two. And the number of sex crimes that triggered review grew from nine to 35.

As a result, there were 22,976 referrals in 2007 through 2009, an average of 638 per month. During those three years, there were 59 commitments.

Despite the huge increase in prison referrals, then, commitments have gone down. Why? The Union-Tribune data analysis shows that the rate of cases moved forward by prosecutors and judges has stayed the same, with less than 10 percent of cases rejected.

But the rate of rejection by the Department of Mental Health has gone up significantly.

Before Jessica’s Law, 62 percent of referrals were eliminated in an initial screening. Since then, it has been 79 percent.

Before Jessica’s Law, 81 percent of cases were rejected after the next step, a full evaluation including an interview. Since then, it has been 93 percent.

Kincaid said the rejections went up because many of the new referrals don’t have an underlying mental disorder and a propensity for sexual violence that would qualify them for commitment.

But critics say the program is weeding out more cases at the front end, both to better manage the increased workload and to save money.

The initial screening used to include just a check of whether the inmate had committed a qualifying crime. In 2007, deeper record reviews were added. They call for scrutiny of an inmate’s case files, but no face-to-face interviews, and generally take a few hours.

“We were told it was legal, and if we didn’t do it, some evaluations wouldn’t get done at all, and nobody wants that to happen,” the longtime evaluator said. “We figured it was better than nothing.”

Chris Johnson, the San Francisco lawyer who represents some evaluators in a potential whistle-blower lawsuit against the state, questions whether the change is legal.

He pointed to the state code that governs the program, which says that once a referral comes to the Department of Mental Health, two psychologists or psychiatrists are supposed to do a “full evaluation.” For most professionals, a full evaluation includes an interview, Johnson said.

But Kincaid referred to another code section that calls for a review by prison officials of an inmate’s “social, criminal and institutional history.” Because of its expertise, the Department of Mental Health does that, which is where the record reviews come in, she said.

Johnson said evaluators who refuse to do record reviews on ethical grounds face a backlash. The evaluator said there’s pressure from department administrators to find that an inmate isn’t dangerous.

Kincaid called those allegations “patently false.” She said evaluators are encouraged to get whatever records they need to render an opinion and, if in doubt, can pass an inmate along to the next level of scrutiny, which includes interviews.

The evaluator acknowledged that she stands to gain financially if the program returns to more full evaluations and fewer record reviews. Some did very well under the old system.

In the first year after Jessica’s Law passed, the program raised the flat rate for evaluations from $2,000 to $3,500 to entice the 70 private-contract experts who perform them to do more and reduce a backlog.

About a dozen of them ended up making more than $500,000 that year, and at least one made more than $1 million.

The latest contract still pays about $3,000 for clinical evaluations. The flat rate for a record review is $75.

Staff data specialist Danielle Cervantes contributed to this report. John Wilkens: (619) 293-2236 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (619) 293-2236 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More mentally ill sex offenders freed on parole

Lawmakers seek audit of mental health agency

The system that decides whether mentally ill sex offenders are too dangerous to be freed when their prison terms end has seen a tenfold increase in cases since the passage of Jessica’s Law in California three years ago.

But the number of inmates who get committed to an institution has barely budged, according to an analysis of state data by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

One reason is the volume of prison referrals rejected by the California Department of Mental Health. In 2005, the agency approved 45 percent of cases on initial review. That number has fallen steadily, to 17 percent last year.

That trend is one of the reasons a state lawmaker on Tuesday asked for an audit of the government agency responsible for screening offenders.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, said he wants the state Department of Mental Health to explain why so few inmates are ordered into hospitals instead of being released on parole.

“I’ve got serious concerns that (the department) is not fully executing its duty to protect the public from sex offenders,” Fletcher said in a letter sent yesterday to Stephen Mayberg, state mental health director.

Fletcher’s inquiry follows a report in the Union-Tribune on Sunday detailing allegations from child-safety advocate Marc Klaas about the department’s handling of John Albert Gardner III, the convicted sex offender charged with raping and killing Poway teenager Chelsea King.

Klaas, citing department employees who saw Gardner’s psychological evaluations, said prison officials twice recommended Gardner not be released, and twice Department of Mental Health evaluators disagreed.

Placing Gardner in a state hospital rather than releasing him on parole after serving five years for a 2000 conviction for molesting and beating a 13-year-old girl in Rancho Bernardo might have saved Chelsea’s life, Klaas said.

California, like 19 other states, has a civil-commitment procedure that allows officials to keep violent sex offenders in custody past the end of their prison sentences if they have a mental illness that makes them dangerous and requires hospitalization.

When Jessica’s Law passed in November 2006, it changed the criteria for designation as a sexually violent predator from two offenses to one, and lengthened the list of qualifying crimes. The Department of Mental Health caseload exploded.

It went from 636 referrals in 2006 to 6,705 last year, according to the Union-Tribune data analysis.

The referrals originate with prison officials, who evaluate the offenders as they are nearing the end of their terms.

Department of Mental Health psychologists and psychiatrists then look at the cases and decide which ones should get additional screening. That round of screening determines which of those candidates will be sent to local district attorneys for civil-commitment trials.

The number finally placed in hospitals statewide after that process was 23 in 2006, and grew only to 27 last year despite the high number of referrals, the data review found.

A San Francisco attorney who represents a group of current and former Department of Mental Health sex-offender evaluators in a possible whistle-blower suit against the state said the trends are largely due to the state shifting more to “paper screenings” — reviews of written records instead of face-to-face interviews by two separate evaluators.

That has allowed the department to manage the flood of cases and cut costs amid a severe state budget crisis, said the attorney, Chris Johnson. But he believes it’s against the law, which requires a “full evaluation.” To most mental health professionals, doing a full evaluation involves a personal interview, he said.

“Everybody understands the state is having financial difficulties, but if they want to change the law, they should ask Californians to agree, and not do it on the backs of crime victims,” Johnson said. “We already voted on it, with Jessica’s Law.”

A Mental Health department spokeswoman did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment yesterday. In response to an earlier story addressing similar concerns, the spokeswoman said the department’s screening process “exceeds all statutory requirements” and the evaluators “always err on the side of caution.”

In his letter yesterday to Mayberg, Fletcher asked how often the department does “paper screenings” and under what statutory authority.

“I am asking you to help me in this process and to be part of the solution to ensure the safety of our children from sexual predators,” Fletcher wrote.

The assemblyman, who last week announced plans for a Chelsea’s Law to crack down on sex offenders, also wants the Bureau of State Audits to examine the Mental Health Department’s practices.

Trula LaCalle, executive director of the California office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said she could not speak to Fletcher’s concerns because she has no firsthand knowledge of interactions between prison and mental-health officials.

But “the Department of Mental Health is overwhelmed in all areas,” LaCalle said. “Mental Health has been underfunded in this state for decades. The laws themselves may not be the problem. The problem is implementation.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Employee of C.S.H. Voices Frustration

NOTE: This message appeared on a discussion board at ALLNURSES.COM:

Default Re: Anyone Start at Coalinga State Hospital May 4th?
COALINGA STATE HOSPITAL is the most ________ up place to work at...excuse my language....I'm soooo upset..I work on a RRU and my psych tech supervisor (i didnt mind they were in charge but after their non medical thinking I'm angry!!!) told me the old nurse i work with didnt have to help me do sick call, she didnt have to float, and i had to do 50 monthly summaries while the other nurse was on leave....all that other nurse has to do is the 50 WRP's!!!...but US straight up told me, the people in administration...does not really care about the patients medical problems and all they care about is their enhancement plan!! and that sick call is not that important...i realize we are working with SVP's, population full or rapists and child molesters but I'M NOT THEIR JUDGE
, I'M A NURSE!!! I truly believe in giving equal care to everybody, maybe if me or my family were victims i'd think different but it's inhumane for EVERYONE to treat them all like garbage!!!.....if i didnt need this job for my daughter i'd get the hecc outta here!!!!!!!! My supervisor said only I can float to another unit, the other nurse doesnt have to!!! because of this paperwork....and that if i float, i have to come back to our own unit and do sick call....what if their is an emergency on the other unit and they ask where their nurse is, I'm suppose to be floating not covering!! theres a difference....from what I know all us RN's signed the same duty program even had an RN meeting on teamwork, RN's do all roles sick call/monthlys/wrp's etc etc....if my unit is exempt I want that in I won't be in trouble for them was all this RN's fault cuz she's the only one who can do medical care and the other nurse only has paperwork...thats BS!!! I'm new to the state and everyone knows everyone there and you can't get any help unless you know people......I just dont know what to do....I have to keep this job for my daughter!! (I drive every week from the bay area live out here when i work and go back home to my daughter, fam and friends)... but at the same time, I know when I go higher in the chain of command nothing will get's mostly psych techs and people that are all buddies....I already knew nothing was gonna happen when i talked to my supervisor today....but I still tried....i want everyone who is thinking about working here to think twice, three times, four times etc!! if you are new to the state they treat you like a dog!! if your a new RN, they'll treat you like a dog....I'm grateful I have a job since it's scarce out there, i'm really venting because I'm gonna do my job which is to help provide medical care!!! it's my own license on the line, I can only do so much, i'll work hard and get the satisfaction from me being a good person, which is not being lazy or cruel!! that i'm doing what a RN is suppose to do ...I didnt want to start drama or a war on my unit, it's not like that, I've done what they asked me to do...all I'm asking is for help and I can't even get that from my supervisor or the other RN.....coalinga state hospital is a bunch of no good politics, it's not a hospital at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:down :

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mike St. Martin Loses Bid For Release From California's Gulag

Mike St. Martin lost his "civil" commitment case this past week in San Diego county. He is now a "lifetime" commitment to California's Department of Mental Health, Coalinga State Hospital (the "Gulag") .

The San Diego County Prosecutor managed to convince the jury that St. Martin poses a continued risk to California's children and should be locked-up for life as a "Sexually Violent Predator". It is worth noting that the word "violent" in this case does not mean "violent" in the sense that most intelligent and informed people would use the term. Instead, "sexual violence" has been redefined by the State of California and most other states as a means of branding individuals who have had sexual contact of one kind or another with someone under the age of fourteen, regardless if force, coercion, or actual violence were employed in this sexual contact. And, of course, it serves to inflame the public who, after all, can hardly be blamed for not wanting "sexually violent predators" loosed on society.

Mike is preparing a piece recounting this most recent outrage in this ongoing travesty and we will post it here as soon as it is available.

Worth noting, however, is the apparent outrage expressed by the State at Mike's vocal advocacy of his and other Detainee's rights and his audacity to describe in detail the circumstances of their continued imprisonment and cynical mistreatment by the State of California. That Mike St. Martin will describe in detail the myriad legal and constitutional violations perpetrated by the State, communicating these to civil liberties advocates on the outside who then reprint his statements on this and other blogs, seemed to bother them, and Channel 10 of San Diego, the most.

The news report is available here and, were it not with such terrible consequences, would be laughable for its complete lack of any journalistic standards. The "victim's advocate" interviewed as part of this piece gets the final word, suggesting that by his participation in disseminating the truth about Coalinga, St. Martin is "re-victimizing" his victims and "drowning-out" competing voices! This absurd position can only be interpreted as code for: "he shouldn't be allowed to speak to the public".

Victim's Advocate Says Sex Offender's Blog Posts Hurts Victims

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Urge C.S.H. Director Mayburg To Lift Computer Moratorium

Please write, email or call:
Stephen W. Mayberg, Ph. D.
Department of Mental Health
1600 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Tel: (916) 654-2309

Dear Mr. Mayberg,

Administrative Directive 654 established the ability for Residents of Coalinga State Hospital to purchase and possess personal laptop computers. Many individuals availed themselves of this opportunity by buying their own computers, and this subpopulation retains them to this day.

On February 28, 2007, an unsigned memo was published and circulated that placed a temporary "moratorium" on the further purchase of these items until details regarding their use were addressed. A few months later, the population of residents at C.S.H. were informed that the process had been taken over by Sacramento at the Departmental level, and that we would be advised as to consequent policies. In the ensuing months, there have been repeated attempts to obtain information regarding this process. To date, the response has been completely uninformative, though rumors abound.

This ongoing moratorium has created two groups of residents at this facility which cannot otherwise be distinguished one from the other. Some have had computers for around two years, while the rest are being prevented from purchasing their own. Even those who do have computers are finding it difficult to replace worn-out components or to obtain the software they need. Some originally opted to temporarily forgo purchasing needed software (intending to obtain such software later) in order to obtain the best computer for the money. Now however, they have their computers but not the software they need.

Legislators have been able to craft, vote upon, and signed into law major legislation during the same period of time that this so-called committee has been looking at what computers and peripherals might be allowed-twenty-one months!

We want to know why it is taking so long to develop a simple set of standards.

Any standard at which the committee arrives constitutes a shot at a moving target; computer technology changes every 18 months or so, and you've had 21 months to pull the trigger without any results. It appears to us that this committee, if it really does exist, is simply accomplishing through moratorium that which they cannot by other means achieve lawfully, not to say that an unsigned memo is lawful.

Why are we not being kept informed of its progress? We are, after all, the ones who are most interested in these decisions: residents of C.S.H., family members, and friends of the Residents. Remember, that taxpayers have made computer investments believing that D.M.H. would act in good faith. As people sense that they have been deceived there has been growing unrest. There are many who are contemplating legal remedies; while others clamor for more direct action. For all of us both inside and outside of C.S.H. the claim that this moratorium is "temporary" has become unreasonable.

It's time to end this phoney moratorium. Direct the people in your Department to do their jobs.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lawsuits target ventilation systems at Coalinga State Hospital

By Chris Collins / The Fresno Bee

The air conditioning and ventilation systems at Coalinga State Hospital are in disrepair and have endangered the health of the facility's patients, according to two recent lawsuits.

One suit says that dead birds were found in the ventilation system.

The lawsuits raise questions about California's newest mental health hospital, a $388 million facility that opened in 2005 and houses sexually violent predators.

The lawsuits, both filed by Santa Monica attorney David Feldman in September in Fresno County Superior Court, say the hospital's ventilation system does not allow clean air to circulate and hospital staffers have failed to conduct necessary inspections.

Hospital spokeswoman Deborah Ireland said Monday that she could not comment on the lawsuits.

In the first lawsuit, patient Dougal Samuels, a 55-year-old man with an unspecified mental disease, says he began coughing, losing his appetite and having chills in April 2006. Four months later, after his condition worsened, a hospital doctor diagnosed him with Valley fever.

Samuels was later diagnosed with pneumonia. X-rays showed a large black mass in his right lung area. The hospital scheduled an MRI, but one was never done, according to the lawsuit.

In April 2007, Samuels told staffers that he was in so much pain that he could not sit up. Two months later, an MRI at a hospital in San Luis Obispo showed that Samuels' spine was inflamed and was destroying his vertebrae, the lawsuit says.

Samuels needed immediate surgery. He had a disc removed and was put into a body cast.

The lawsuit says that Coalinga State Hospital knew that Valley fever could spread through its ventilation system but did not take necessary precautions.

The second lawsuit says that patient Kurt Parker, a 41-year-old man with an unspecified mental impairment, was one of two patients to contract a dangerous flu that had spread because the ventilation system was not properly maintained.
The lawsuit says that "dead birds were allowed to accumulate in the ventilation system, resulting in the spreading of bacteria."

Also see:

Monday, August 18, 2008


On Friday, August 15, 2008, the OAL ruled on Michael St.Martin’s petition alleging that the “Evaluators’ Handbook” is an underground regulation. In its holding, the OAL analyzed each and every excuse made by the respondent California Department of Mental Health (“DMH”) and then explained why the proffered defense was totally without merit. The OAL ruling is a 12 page PDF document that you may read or download. Follow the link by clicking on the above title. 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Civil Detainees To Lose Pell Grants

August 1, 2008

Civilly committed sex offenders lose another rehabilitation tool. The ability to obtain a college education will be gone next year. The hardliners in politics apparently would rather throw away the key and house those persons whom are civilly committed for the rest of their lives, at huge costs, instead of spending a much smaller amount of money to educate and rehabilitate this group.

The hardliners targeted prisoners in the 1990s, and took away the ability to obtain a college education from prison inmates. They then spent the next ten years complaining about the high recidivism rates.

A little-noticed provision approved by the House and Senate yesterday makes certain offenders ineligible for Pell Grants starting July 1, 2009. President Bush is expected to sign it into law as part of a broader higher education bill.

Critics of this bill say it will cut off the possibility of higher education to offenders who are trying to rehabilitate themselves.

Opponents to this bill, including civil rights advocates, claim individual abuses of the Pell Grant program should have been dealt with, not a dismantling of the program for an entire class of citizens.

Those who are civilly committed complain that they supposedly still have their civil rights, and in fact, many of them are registered voters. Yet, society continues to punish them. The words of congressman Keller, and others like him, support the civil detainees claims that their detention is punitive - not civil.

"Today, the most insane wasteful spending program in America comes to an end," Rep. Ric Keller, a Florida Republican, said on the House floor on Thursday before his plan won approval.

Keller cited the AP report that some of the offenders were putting the financial aid to questionable use by buying clothes, DVD players and music CDS - sometimes after they dropped their classes.

The Associated Press reported in March that dozens of rapists and child molesters, including some in Wisconsin, have taken classes at taxpayer expense while confined by the courts to treatment centers. Critics say they are exploiting a loophole to receive Pell Grants, which are meant for low-income students.

In California, 125 patients at Coalinga State Hospital are receiving Pell Grants to take correspondence courses through Coastline Community College. The school doesn't know how many of the grant recipients are committed sex offenders, who take up two-thirds of the mental hospital's 1,500 beds, Coastline spokeswoman Michelle Ma said.

"We're certainly watching to see what impact this is going to have," she said. "We don't know if this is going to hurt our enrollment."

Some of the provisions of the Bill:

(E) in paragraph (7) (as designated by subparagraph (B)), by inserting before the period the following: `or who is subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense (as determined in accordance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program)'; and

`(e) Student Eligibility- An incarcerated individual who has obtained a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent shall be eligible for participation in a program receiving a grant under this section if such individual--

`(1) is eligible to be released within seven years (including an incarcerated individual who is eligible for parole within such time);

`(2) is 35 years of age or younger; and

`(3) has not been convicted of--

`(A) a `criminal offense against a victim who is a minor' or a `sexually violent offense', as such terms are defined in the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (42 U.S.C. 14071 et seq.); or

`(B) murder, as described in section 1111 of title 18, United States Code.

`(f) Length of Participation- A State correctional education agency receiving a grant under this section shall provide educational and related services to each participating incarcerated individual for a period not to exceed seven years, not more than two years of which may be devoted to study in a graduate education degree program or to coursework to prepare such individuals to take college level courses. Educational and related services shall start during the period of incarceration in prison or prerelease, and the related services may continue for not more than two years after release from confinement.

`(g) Education Delivery Systems- State correctional education agencies and cooperating institutions shall, to the extent practicable, use high-tech applications in developing programs to meet the requirements and goals of this section.

`(h) Allocation of Funds- From the funds appropriated pursuant to subsection (i) for each fiscal year, the Secretary shall allot to each State an amount that bears the same relationship to such funds as the total number of students eligible under subsection (e) in such State bears to the total number of such students in all States.

Cynthia Radavsky Joins The Circle Of Avoidance

Cynthia Radavsky, Deputy Director, Long Term Care Services, the person who supposedly oversees all of the State Hospitals in the California Department of Mental Health system, apparently has washed her hands of Michael St Martin’s allegations of a conspiracy to "smoke his chart." Instead of dealing with the situation and doing an independent investigation, she has instead referred St.Martin’s "concerns to the Administration at Coalinga State Hospital."

Once again, the Circle of Avoidance is in full operation. The Deputy Director has simply referred St.Martin’s concerns back to the people against whom the original complaint was made. It apparently is the "whose policing the police" scenario, as those accused will again investigate themselves.

Click on the Title to view Cynthia Radavsky’s letter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Michael St.Martin fights back!

Michael St.Martin fights back against an alleged conspiracy to "smoke" his medical chart. A group of women employees at Coalinga State Hospital have made unsubstantiated allegations against St.Martin in retaliation for his activism. Read the nonsense they have written in his medical chart and his letters of response. Click on the title to access the St.Martin pdf document.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mike St. Martin Accused Of "Predorizing" C.S.H. Staff

"Smoking the Charts"! Mike St. Martin illustrates the consequences for Civil Detainees who go public in exposing the California Department of Mental Health's Coalinga State Hospital.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Department of Mental Health Underground Regulations: Evaluator's Handbook Not Being Promulgated. (go to page 27)

Department of Mental Health Underground Regulation 818 Dealing with Contraband
(go to page 14)

Department of Mental Health Underground Regulation 624 Dealing with Mail and Packages (go to page 27)

(Administrative Directives can be viewed at

Friday, April 4, 2008

Patient's killing shocks state hospital

Los Angeles Times

Already under pressure to make reforms, the Atascadero facility is now dealing with the death of Lawrence Paul Rael. Another patient has been charged with murder. (full story)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sex predator accused of killing inmate

Two men were serving time in the same unit at Atascadero State Hospital
By John Simerman

A sexually violent predator committed to Atascadero State Hospital was found dead Sunday morning and another man in the same unit was arrested on suspicion of murder, a hospital spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman Craig Dacus said he thought it would be the first patient homicide in the 54-year history of a facility that houses about 1,000 patients near Highway 101 south of Paso Robles.

The body of Lawrence Rael, 37, was found in his bed about 8 a.m., Dacus said. Police arrested Richard McKee, 44, a sexually violent predator who was committed to the state hospital in 2005.

Dacus said he did not know if a weapon was used, but McKee also was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for a separate incident with a different victim the same day. An investigation into Rael's death continued Monday.

"How that dead body got there we can't definitely say," Dacus said. "We're waiting for the investigation to pan out."

Court records show that McKee of San Diego was convicted in 1991 of lewd acts against an 11-year-old baby sitter and in 1998 for lewd acts against his 8-year-old niece. According to the Megan's Law Web site, Rael also was convicted for lewd acts with a child younger than 14.

McKee was originally admitted as a mentally disordered offender, then in August was reclassified as a sexually violent predator, or SVP, and switched units.

Both men were housed with other SVPs in Unit 22, where each patient lives in his own narrow room. Only the
units themselves, and not the rooms, are locked at night, Dacus said.

Only 36 SVPs are left at Atascadero, with more than 400 having moved to Coalinga State Hospital, which opened in 2005. Peter Tolles, a former Unit 22 patient now at Coalinga, said that those remaining at Atascadero were held in two units, with Unit 22 designated for more "dysfunctional men that have both medical and emotional problems."

Tolles said his complaints about fights in the unit went ignored. Nancy Kincaid of the state Department of Mental Health said she could not document the unit's history of assaults Monday, but she reiterated that the agency investigates all complaints and allegations.

Tolles said he knew Rael as "Shaky," for his frequent shaking, even in his sleep. Rael entered Atascadero in 1998. "He was a pretty happy-go-lucky, jovial individual in comparison to many of the men on the unit," Tolles said.

McKee was being held Monday at San Luis Obispo County Jail. After they found the body, officials placed the state hospital on lockdown for most of the day Sunday, Dacus said.

Reach John Simerman at 925-943-8072 or

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Murdered ASH patient worried about alleged killer who just lost major court appeal


The man suspected of strangling a fellow Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) patient to death with a towel over the weekend was on the losing end of an important, recent California Fourth District Court of Appeal decision upholding the constitutionality of Proposition 83, the so-called Jessica’s Law.

Also, hospital officials reportedly ignored at least a week of repeated warnings from patients about violent and threatening behavior by the man, Richard Earl McKee, now held on suspicion in the slaying of Lawrence Paul “Shaky” Rael late Saturday or early Sunday. And the victim’s father told several patients he was initially informed by hospital officials that his son “had hanged himself.”
Rael, found in his bed Sunday morning by hospital employees, was killed sometime after 10:30 p.m. Saturday, after he talked on the telephone to another patient and was said to have expressed his increasing fear of McKee.
A second victim, Raymond Chester, was injured in the attack and was discovered unconscious in his own bed after suffering damage to his limbs and ribs, according to witnesses. No further report on his condition was immediately available.

The murder and assault occurred as a federal judge in another case was demanding ASH officials show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court in the aftermath of a finding that two employees violated the civil rights of a patient.

According to a woman who answered the phone at ASH, no spokesperson would be available to talk to media on Monday regarding any issue because it is a state holiday, Caesar Chavez Day. She additionally declined to identify, or to put in touch with, the hospital’s on-call medical director for comment.
Suspect McKee until recently was considered by the California Department of Mental Health to be a mentally disordered offender (MDO). As such, he would by law be separated from other patients in the facility not similarly designated. But in mid-March, McKee was reclassified for inclusion in the sexually violent predator (SVP) program and became, in hospital lexicon, a dual-confinement patient.
McKee, 35, originally imprisoned for lewd acts on children, had sought to be released from state custody by claiming he was not dangerous to the public. McKee argued that provisions of Proposition 83, the so-called Jessica’s Law, were inadequate to insure that only those persons with a diagnosed, current mental illness -- one making them dangerous to the public -- could continue to be confined.
The Court of Appeal decision confirmed McKee’s involuntary commitment at ASH March 21.
Immediately after that court decision, McKee was placed in Unit 22 at ASH, and others in the SVP program said they began to inform staff that McKee was bullying and threatening people in the unit, and becoming increasingly aggressive and violent. Their claims went unheeded, according to one patient, Peter Tolls.
Rael talked on the telephone to his friend, fellow patient Ron “Bear” Barrett, according to Tolls, at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, sounding upbeat on the one hand but also expressing fear of McKee.

In a prior case involving a similar failure to protect a patient, a federal judge ruled that two ASH employees violated one patient’s civil rights and ordered the pair to pay $1,000 to that SVP patient. The judge now wants to know why the ASH employees have not yet done so.

U.S. Central District Judge S. James Sotero ruled in December that employees Melissa A. Roper and Michael C. Groom were found to have made “a substantial departure from professional judgment, practice and standards” and thus were responsible for injuries suffered by patient Theodric Van Smith in assaults on him by other two patients.

ASH officials in that case also had been repeatedly warned, by patients, staff and state and federal law enforcement agencies that Smith might become a target of attack for his testimony against two Pelican Bay State Prison guards. Peggy Phaklides, a litigation manager for ASH, said in January the hospital is considering appealing Smith’s civil judgment.

ASH patient arrested for allegedly killing fellow patient

by Stephen Curran

A patient at Atascadero State Hospital has been arrested in connection with the death of another man in the facility’s custody Sunday.

Richard McKee, 44, is accused of killing Lawrence Rael, a fellow patient on Unit 22. McKee was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an unrelated assault, hospital spokesman Craig Dacus said.

Rael, 37, had been a patient at ASH since 1998, Dacus said.

McKee has been a patient at ASH since 2005, Dacus said. According to the Megan’s Law database, McKee was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

Rael’s death remained under investigation this afternoon, Dacus said. No additional details have been released.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sex Offender Murdered At Atascadero State Hospital This Morning

One sex offender is dead and another is in critical condition after another Hospital Patient, Richard McKee, went on an early-morning rampage Sunday at Atascadero State Hospital.

Early reports say that the dead victim, Lawrence Real, was beaten and strangled to death while the other victim, whose name has not yet been confirmed, suffered broken arms, legs, and ribs during the attack.

McKee had just recently (March 21, 2008) lost an appeal in San Diego Superior Court (see story) in which Judge Peter L. Gallagher upheld the constitutionality of the 2006 amendments to the act passed as Jessica’s Law, which provided in part that an individual committed under the act would remain in custody until he could prove that he no longer met the definition of a sexually violent predator. McKee's failed appeal had asserted that his federal constitutional rights to due process, equal protection under the law, and the ban against ex post facto laws had been violated.

These are preliminary reports and have not yet been confirmed by multiple sources.

An unnamed Hospital spokesperson, in speaking with a television reporter earlier today, denied that any such incident occurred.

We will provide further details as we learn more.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Petition to Repeal Jessica's Law and California Welfare & Institutions Code, §6600

Please go to the following to sign the Repeal Jessica's Law and California Welfare & Institutions Code, §6600 Petition.

When you do, please elect to provide Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees with your email address (you don't have to make it public). This will enable us to keep you informed of developments with this petition as well as with other news related to the Civil Detainees in Coalinga. Your information will be kept in strict confidence and will not be shared with anyone else. Thanks!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Video Coverage of the Rally in Front of C.S.H.

The following video clips were recorded Sunday, March 3, 2008, at the rally held jointly by "Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees" and "Reform of Sex Offender Laws" in front of Coalinga State Hospital in Coalinga, California.

The demonstration was held to protest the laws which punish sex offenders twice for the same crime by holding them as "Civil Detainees" in this purpose-built modern gulag in the hinterlands of California as well as the conditions of their confinement.

Our next protest will occur at the Statehouse in Sacramento sometime this summer. We need your help and your presence to make our voices heard! Please contact us at: to learn more.

The videos include:
  • Tom Madison Keynote Speech
  • Paul Shannon Speaks To Civil Detainees & Their Supporters from Boston
  • Jammye Stallworth, Wife Of A Civil Detainees
  • "Starchild", Libertarian and Human Rights activist, discusses the urgent need for building coalitions amongst civil libertarians and the disenfranchised to combat oppressive government before it is too late.
  • Jeff Griffin of the "Citizens Committee on Human Rights" examines the motivations behind government, the mental health community, and the pharmaceuticals industry in promulgating public terror, pseudo-diagnostics and mechanisms for the destruction of liberty.
  • Tom Madison: Update on the Detainee rally going on INSIDE Coalinga State Hospital
Brief Interview: "Lt. Wilson Explains Why Visiting Is Shut Down" for four days which coincided with the rally

Speeches by Detainees for the Demonstration outside of C.S.H. :
  • A word of thanks to our supporters!
  • LANCE PURCELL: Crime & Punishment or Mental Illness & Treatment
  • Mike St. Martin Speaks by Telephone to the Demonstrators
  • DETAINEE ANTHONY CARLIN: The New "Disappeared"
  • DETAINEE “Y”.: Challenging Professional Integrity of "Therapists" in C.S.H.
  • DETAINEE LANCE PURCELL: Diagnosing a Deeply Disordered Department
  • DETAINEE LANCE PURCELL: C.S.H. Cannot Trust Its Own Best Efforts
  • DETAINEE ANTHONY CARLIN: No Viable Exit Program
  • Detainee “X”: Deaths in C.S.H.
  • Detainee “X”: David Smith
  • Detainee “X”: C.S.H. Fact Sheet

Tom Madison Keynote Speech at Coalinga State Hospital

Tom Madison, President S.O. Clear, delivers the opening speech at the rally held by Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees Tom Madison, President S.O. Clear, delivers the opening speech at the rally held by Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees and Reform of Sex Offender Laws in front Coalinga State Hospital where sex offenders are civilly confined after serving their terms in prison.