Gov. Christine Gregoire put her signature on Senate Bill 5105 April 15, limiting the conditional release of any patient committed to a state mental hospital as criminally insane unless that person is released into the county that ordered the commitment. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, is similar to the “county of origin” language in Carrell’s 2007 prison and supervision reform law.
“You may have heard me refer repeatedly to Pierce County being a dumping ground for the state’s undesirables, but it’s not just a talking point or a sound bite,” Carrell said. “It is a fact that for decades, other counties in Washington were shipping their released felons and violent mental patients into our backyard so they wouldn’t have to deal with them coming back. Well, that ends starting today.”
Carrell added there are a few exceptions to releasing the criminally insane back into their county of origin. Similar to the prison-reform provisions of four years ago, exceptions may be made if the state hospital determines that the county of origin would be inappropriate considering any court-issued protection orders, victim-safety concerns, the availability of appropriate treatment, negative influences on the person, or the location of family or other persons or organizations offering support to the patient.
SB 5105 passed the Senate unanimously March 1, and passed the House of Representatives 90-6 on April 5. The law will take effect on July 23, 90 days after the end of the 2011 regular legislative session.