Friday, November 23, 2007

C.S.H. Civil Detainees Press Release

Friday, November 23, 2007

Under Increasing Public Scrutiny, Coalinga State Hospital Shifts Into Crisis Mode

Since Thursday's Los Angeles Times article1 on deficient medical care and the denial of basic civil rights to Detainees being confined in Coalinga State Hospital, its Administration has moved fully into crisis mode, confidential sources from within staff report.

They report that the Hospital, unable to attract and retain employees in the drastically understaffed facility, have been hiring “temp agency psychologists” at up to three times the current going rate just to get “warm bodies” into the facility.

In addition to investigators and auditors from Sacramento who have begun to descend upon the Hospital, two representatives from Protection and Advocacy, Sean Rashkis and an assistant arrived at C.S.H. Friday to investigate the circumstances into Detainee Frank Valado's death [Detainees allege that he was left untreated on the gymnasium floor] and to interview patients regarding their medical treatment, including David Smith. Smith, who has alleged that he was denied tests and treatment over a number of months despite disturbing medical symptoms, was ultimately diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. Since its removal, he has also been diagnosed with two brain tumors.

The day after the L.A.Times article appeared, staff arrived at the the gym to install a defibrillator but then discovered that there was already one behind a locked door to the gym, as had been reported by Mike St. Martin in our press release of the week before. Also since Valado's death, Kathy Bryant has made a point of showing Detainees her “Mouth Guard” for use in performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, claiming that she had had it all along. By this, she clearly wishes to refute the allegation by Detainees witnessing Valado's death that she had said “I'm not putting my mouth on his mouth” in reference to performing mouth-to-mouth upon Valado. Other mouth guards suddenly appeared in the gym itself but, strangely, then disappeared again soon after.

Detainees were encouraged when Hospital Director Norm Kramer agreed to meet with representatives of the Detainee Strike Committee and acknowledged in that meeting that Hospital medical care has been substandard, pledging to create a database to track patient illnesses and to begin performing triage. He asked Detainees to bring forward those Patients with immediate medical needs for treatment consideration.

Deirdre D'Orazio, Director of Program Development and Evaluation Services at C.S.H. was quoted extensively in both the Times article as well as in the KSEE-24 segment which aired later that same day. D'Orazio, with a Ph.D. In Clinical Psychology with a proficiency in Forensic Psychology from “Alliant” University, oversees Coalinga's S.O.C.P. (Sex Offender Commitment Program also known as the “Phase” Program) arguably one of the largest and most expensive sex offender treatment programs in the world. She helped to open C.S.H. in September 2005 having just received her license by the State of California in December 2004.

A search using “Google Scholar” and “BASE” for locating published works in academic journals failed to produce any evidence of her scholarship in any area of psychology.

In September of this year, she told the Ventura County Star2 that the five-phase treatment program created in 1996 is too young to determine its long-term effect and that the number of patients is too small to have statistical value, hardly a ringing endorsement for a program costing taxpayers upwards of $200,000 per year per patient.

The centerpiece of this treatment modality is what D'Orazio refers to as "a psychological autopsy." Patients describe this process as part of an overall “deconstruction” of the individual, in which past events or fantasies are recounted endlessly-literally for years-by the Patient at the insistence of therapists. This approach is said to be nothing more than a “recycled” version of the failed “S.O.T.E.P.” program, dismantled years ago, and which was itself a replacement for the failed “M.D.S.O.” program.

Amongst therapists facilitating this process are self-proclaimed “survivors” of sexual abuse who, Detainees report, abuse their positions of power to exact revenge against sex offenders as a class.

As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune3, May 22, 2006, Dr. Gabrielle Paladino, a psychiatrist at Atascadero State Hospital, the facility which housed all Civilly Committed Sex Offenders before the completion of C.S.H. said, "The odds that a participant will be judged suitable for release are greater than 100 to 1.” Those who decline treatment and seek judicial release stand a better chance of winning their freedom.

Nationally recognized experts in sex offending such as Fred Berlin, Robert Prentky and Canada's Karl Hanson, have been scathing in their criticism of state treatment programs, including California's, and its civil commitment laws. One leading expert, well-acquainted with California's S.O.C.P., has described it as “miserable”.

Michael Feer, a psychiatric social worker with more than three decades of experience and who worked at Coalinga until earlier this spring, stated “The Hospital is a setup. Ostensibly, it is a treatment hospital but one built with a wink to a public that has little compunction about locking up sex offenders forever”. Feer said that he believes that many Detainees held in C.S.H. would pose no threat to the public if released.1

Marita Mayer, a Contra Costa public defender, compares the predator law to the 2002 film "Minority Report," in which people were imprisoned for future crimes envisioned by women with a gift for prophecy. “We have lowered the standard so much that we are locking up people who probably won't recommit because of a few who might." 4

According to Detainee Spokesman Michael St. Martin, an Atascadero Psychiatric Technician, Lana Garcia, once told him that she was appointed by God to punish him. “But the more serious reality is this”, he added, “I'm being held for a crime I might commit in the future by people who are committing crimes in the present.”

Howard Zonana, a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University and Spokesperson for the American Psychiatric Association has said, “S.V.P. laws are not an attempt to gain treatment or anything close to that... What it really is is an attempt to extend prison sentences.”

"They are using a psychiatric facility to pursue a legal end," said, Mark Graff, a San Fernando Valley psychiatrist who led efforts by the California Psychiatric Association to oppose the sexually violent predator law. The law is about punishment, punishment, punishment.“ 5

Civil Detainee Spokesperson: Mike St. Martin, CO-414-3, Unit 7, P.O . BOX 5003, Coalinga , CA 93210-5003 Telephone: 559-934-0391 / 559-934-0392 email:


1. The Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2007
2.Ventura County Star1 September 2, 2007
3. San Diego Union Tribune, May 22, 2006

4.San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 11, 2004
5. Contra Costa Times, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004

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