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Benton/Franklin Citizens calling for new CCRC (Consolidated Crisis Response Center)


Citizens are now asking multiple agencies to create a new CCRC (Consolidated Crisis Response Center for the mentally ill and others in crisis.  Please support this effort.

“When the Restoration Center connects mental health, health care and first responders, police fire and medical together there is a huge marked improvement on how our Community Mental Health System can and should work.” (Claude Oliver) 

What follows is an information sheet, a follow-up or edit/expansion of an earlier article: “Heal Mentally ill patients: Don’t shoot them!”  

We believe our region can and must do much better, with counties, cities, and agencies working together to serve, protect, and heal the mentally ill.

Sad stories

We allege that a number of patients in our region either were shot and killed, or died of preventable causes, sometimes while in custody: at least four lives over a period of several months in recent history.

February 10, 2015:
Antonio Zambrano was shot 16 times and killed by police for rock-throwing, but family members reportedly said he was mentally ill and had been denied proper treatment.  It was reported that Zambrano was on the same street corner one year earlier hitting cars with a stick as they drove by.

March 11, 2016:  
Teenager Mark Anthony Moreno was arrested and placed in Benton County jail where he died 8 days later. 

His crime, as we can best determine, Marc suffered mental illness and his Father, Brother and Sister desperately pleaded for help from Mental Health providers he was instead arrested and put in Benton County Jail – where he died without proper medical help…

Moreno Died in his cell March 11 after 8 days in custody.

March 26, 2015 10:32 PM, Brad Jensen -- (Updated March 26, 2015 10:35 PM)

According to Oliver, after Chris Jensen’s allegedly schizophrenic son was killed during a confrontation with two Pasco police officers, Jensen spent months thinking about what could have been done differently.
“The former Pasco police officer and city councilman says the local mental health system is broken.” (Claude Oliver)

The Green Party was told the senior Jensen questions the way police use deadly force when dealing with those not of sound mind.
“The voices in Brad Jensen’s head became too difficult (him) to deal with in the months leading up to the July shooting,” Oliver said.

April 11, 2018: Teen suicide.
A Kennewick Student took his own life, using a gun to end it all: Jacob Tague, 18, died from a gunshot at his home on South Edison Street. “

May 20, 2018 -- Seattle Times reported waitlist …
“Right now, Western State has a waitlist of 233 mentally-ill people who are languishing in jails as they await mental-health treatment or a psychiatric evaluation.” That is believed to be the longest waitlist the hospital has ever had for these type of patients (Attributed to DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange.)

These are people in crisis who are either deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial or who are awaiting a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether they fall into that category. While they wait in jail, they are not receiving the treatment they need, potentially causing their conditions to worsen and making them difficult to treat once they actually are admitted. The state is already paying about $3-million per month in court fines over the ongoing violation of these patients’ rights.”

May, 2016 – NPR reported suicidal thoughts up among teens
“The number of kids who struggle with thoughts of suicide or who attempt to kill themselves is rising. New research, published Wednesday in Pediatrics,finds children ages 5 to 17 visited children's hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts about twice as often in 2015 as in 2008.”  

Surely the above-named Kennewick Student who is believed to have committed suicide on or around April 11 must have been one of those “rising numbers” with suididal thoughts.

May 21, 2018: Rambling man reported
Reportedly called in to Richland PD: A man was seen walking down Jadwin Street in Richland, Washington, with no shirt and no shoes - rambling on.  Observer could tell he wasn't dangerous, so she stayed and waited with him. Without a Restoration Diagnostics Diversion Center or CCRC we assumed he would most likely have been thrown into jail as others have, rather than receive treatment. As of this writing we don’t know how he was processed.

Former Benton County Treasurer laude Oliver, speaking at a meeting to the Green Party on April 16, 2018, described the long and growing list of tragedies as the result of a systematic denial of rights to the mentally ill on the part of County Commissioners.

“The county has been sitting on a pile of money -- $15 million dollars -- yet they refused to build the system that we needed,” he told us. And he ticked off the alleged the failures of the county, including
fifteen (15) years of what he called, “brazen prejudice and inferior public policy actions.”

The county kept “ignoring Community Mental Health fixes, (and) that resulted in many innocent, sick people dying.”  

An integrated treatment center, would likely save the counties money, given the lawsuit payments we currently make. Oliver  wonders aloud what the holdup is:

 "Jail is not the place to treat a mental patient.”

“$15 million …  just sitting there.”

"The County already owns the property."

"Why isn’t everyone a YES!?”

“Besides the $15,420,000 in the Benton County Public Safety Fund available, there is an additional $25,858,000 in the Capitol Projects Fund plus.”

Furthermore, “More new millions are on the way from the federal Mental Health Opiates crisis funds as well.” 

“In 2007-2008, a Kennewick Businessman offered to build the $15,000,000 joint, Benton/Franklin Consolidated Crisis Response Center for zero cash outlay from Benton and Franklin County: The offer was sadly abandoned.”

“After 10 years of people suffering and sometimes dying  in our Jails, millions in the bank and more new millions on the way, why isn’t everyone a YES!?”

 “The Restoration Center is truly a first critical step to divert people out of Jail and into community diagnostics stabilization treatment programs ... Time is up: Franklin-Benton County discrimination against mentally ill must stop!” (Oliver) 

Citizens Speak Up

Below, residents describe their frustrations, and their grief, at the perceived failings of our county’s record on mental health, identification and treatment.

Anita Layman: “I'm a taxpayer, and I want my tax dollars to go to creating a Recovery Center. The Mentally Ill do not belong in Jails or Prisons.”

Nanci L. Warner: (We) totally need this center. Help mental health and reduce the prison population and violent crimes.

Robin Haight (Former 911 Dispatcher from Benton county: “I think what might also help some is educating our law enforcement Personnel a little bit more. I'm a farmer 911 dispatcher from Benton County.”  He also said: “Our officers who put their lives on the Line 24/7 for us do need some education especially old timers!” (Note that integrating training and services of police, health providers and mental health, among other things, are expected to be part of the plans for a new CCRC.

Claude Oliver: With an effective well-staffed operated Consolidated Crisis Response Center they would check (the patient) out and know from past history everything about (him/her). Individuals inside the criminal justice system without diagnostics diversion are, sadly a ticking time bomb to themselves and everyone around them.

Jen Ward: (Speaking of one mental patient, Ward said: “He was court ordered to be under the supervision of the mental health providers in our community. They failed to provide the necessary supervision and didn't respond to his very clear (mental health needs). The result from that was that he killed his own grandmother. If our system would have been doing their job, working together, and providing the proper treatment and supervision the law required them to provide, this tragedy never would have happened. It was 100% avoidable.”

Christel Reynolds (Who blames the state’s closing of mental hospitals): “Now there are lots of homeless mentally ill people who are off of their meds, have no basic care (nutrition, hygiene, clothing, bed to sleep in), no counseling, etc. It's truly sad that these afflicted souls have lost basic care due to mismanagement of the facilities and diversion of funds by liberals.”

David Steffen: The Funds are Available to build a Consolidated Crises Response Center for Benton and Franklin Counties, but the commissioners refuse to act!”  He adds: “Washington recently landed at a dismal No. 47 on a national ranking of state mental health care systems by nonprofit Mental Health America. It only fared better than Rhode Island, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.”
Note: My research shows that Washington actually ranks number 16.
Michelle Barrett Bodine: “If only the One Stop Neurological Services crisis triage and jail diversion program were better supported by the community & county so we could help more of those in similar situations.”
Clarissa Pulliam: “I really wish people would recognize the help he (a person recently arrested) really needs.”
Neil Jacobson: Why whenever a person gets arrested the first thing out of liberals’ (mouth) is:  "Is he/she mentally ill?”  … obey the law and comply with the officers’ commands.”

Many, like Neil, apparently have had no personal experience with mental illness. Those who have, understand that things are not always that simple.

David Steffen: “We Need a Stronger Voice in Olympia and in the Benton and Franklin Court Houses. Support organizations such as NAMI - National Association for the Mentally Ill - We have an organization right here - NAMI TRI-CITIES.” 

Susan Parker: “We desperately need a new long-term mental health hospital. We are spending a fortune on jails and lawsuits. Just build it, they will come.”

Claude Oliver:We citizens of Benton County passed the Public Safety Tax $93 Million Dollar. Unfortunately, County Bureaucrats worded the ballot to send 100% to build their political empires. $Zero Dollars are going to address our unstable Community Health Crisis Response Services Consolidation.

Will the May 3 protest bear fruit?

It’s up to us – and especially to you who represent us in government, in the jails, in local agencies, in Mental Health, in our hospitals and doctors offices: On May 3, 2018, citizens held a protest in front of the Benton County Justice Center, 7320 W Quinault Ave. Kennewick, WA 99336. However, we are not finished yet. This is an issue that will not go away so long as people are suffering and dying due to the reluctance of a County Commission that, perhaps, has dallied too long. However, the logjam is not just due to county commissions:

To serve the mentally ill and therefore the community, the Commissioners, city managers, the police and various agencies must change course and create a new CCRC that integrates professionals from the various agencies..  Will these agencies and counties make the change now, or will they wait for more people to suffer and die of preventable causes? We are asking agencies to arrange to come to the table with us and with county commissioners and finally, after so much tragedy, to get the job done.

 Please sign the petition that will be circulating. It will be asking the two counties, the cities therein, and the appropriate agencies and health providers to ACT NOW.

This non-partisan message was prepared by Frank Lockwood, a member of Green Party of the Mid-Columbia. Other parties, groups and individuals are invited to collaborate for the common good.

#mentalillness #CCRC #consolidatedcrisisresponsecenter #mentalhealth #franklincountywashington #bentoncountywashington #washingtonmentalhealthservices 


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