The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, June 18, 1963, Page Page Two, Image 2
Page Two Summer Nebraskan Tuesday, June 18, 1963 Mobodv Wonts A Non-ilesodeinit, AAersitdS iscop B w Bl EDITORS NOTE: Jndr Harring ton, Hoond place Individual wln aer In the Hearst national wrltlnc competition, and Lincoln senior In the School of Journalism, wrote the Mlawlnff article which concerna ea-retdeHt mental escapees. Thla lory, which waa written for the tlepta reporting elasa. waa car ried In man? newapanera acrosa the eountrr and we are re-mn-nlnff It la the Summer Nebraskan beeanaa of the Interesting approach to the subject and also because the Governor and other state leals Intora -art attempting to promote legislation to alleviate the mental escapee problem la Nebraska. By Judy Harrington Patrolman Donald Krull took no special precautions when he stopped a speeding car near Seward, Nebras ka. One of the two men in the car pulled a gun, shot and' wounded Krull, and ' fled.': "That was June 29, 1962. The. previous day, the pair had broken out of the se curity section of the James town, North Dakota, men tal hospital. No law officer in Nebras ka could have known he should approach that car with caution. No bulletins on ' these escapes had reached Nebraska. The two men fled to Colo rado where one was killed in a brief gun battle with a second patrolman; the oth er is now in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. This is an extreme case. But daily, somewhere, a law officer is likely to en counter a non-resident men tal escapee and what may happen to that escapee seems to bear out the so cial fact nobody wants a mental escapee. Law Loopholes For the mental escapee who just wanders across the road from the institu tion, return is easy. If he is found farther out in the state, negotiation may be necessary to recommit him. But once he finds has way to another state he falls between the cracks of the law. This happens in Nebraska and feasibly could happen in 24 other states, those which are not members of a relatively new agreement for the care and return of escapees the Interstate LITTLE MAN ' " As 43K ..-HiMgLp... .. his mm. . The gift of Kings to the Queen of Hearts at a price everyone can afford. Yesll $150 r 1200 0' STREET RtSISTERED JEWELERS AMERICAN GEM SOCIETY Compact on Mental Health. This agreement has been discussed in Nebraska. But while there has been no known opposition to such a compact neither has there been a push for its accept ance. What evidence is there now that the mental es capee slips through the re sponsible limits of existing organizations? Law officers understand this problem. For they, at least initially, handle es capees. One Nebraska pa trolman who has encoun tered five such cases, de scribes these two instances. Last fall a Nevada mental escapee was arrested as a vagrant near Lincoln. Ne vada authorities said they would accept financial re sponsibility for the man at the Nevada line. "What . were we to do?" the patrol man asked. "No one there pays to get him back and the man is still wandering about here." Escapee Wanders Another escapee was ap prehended on West 0, near Lincoln. The officer said the man was unintelligible but could write enough words to indicate that he was from a hospital in .Wisconsin. When notified, Wisconsin authorities said he was not wanted in their state. After a few nights at the city mission, the man left Lin coln on his own. One officer confided that he is particularly hesitant to stop a hitch-hiker, es pecially if he's acting a bit strange. "Once you get them, you don't know what to do with them," he said. "If he looks like he's head ed out of the state, let him go. That's where he'll wind up anyway." Others may get only in terrogation in the lawman's car, some a trip to the county attorney's office, and some a partial examin ation at a hospital. Most will be sent on their way if they do not appear to be imme diately dangerous. Generally records are not available to show this be cause there may never be a charge filed. "But every sheriff knows ON CAMPUS 185 PIAN0 it happens," an outstate county sheriff said. "We send them on their way." Sometimes, this means with money for transporta tion. For instance, a man without shoes was reported injured near a railroad track several winters ago. Left Alone His possessions were a letter of transfer from a Nebraska state hospital to a hospital in Chicago, a' pack of drugs, and fare to travel to Chicago. But by himself he hadn't made it 20 miles from the hospital. After his injury, one hos pital refused his admission. A second treated him for three days and released him to a county attorney. Again, ' he was given travel fare out of the state. Why the reluctance to ac cept responsibility? A sheriff cited this ex ample in reply: "If a man from Idaho, a mental escapee, is found around here, I would con tact the Idaho authorities. Most likely they, or any other state, would be reluc tant to bear the expense of covering this man. If our sanity board commits him to the state hospital, it will cost our county about $180 a month for his keep. In the last year we've paid over $60,000 for our own pa tients. How can we afford one not originally from our jurisdiction. Where does the out-of-state escapee go?" The sheriff and other law men answered their own question the escapee will probably go to the county or state line where he be comes someone else's deli cate problem. Another Solution But hospital authorities offer another solution. Many say that if the out-of-stater is committed here, that ne gotiation will begin with the home state for his return. But what happens if the other states refuses, or if transaction takes a number of months? The sheriff said again: "When you call the state hospital, they ask three questions: Male or female? How old? And who's going to pay? The Nebraska statute pro vides only: "If any patient shall' es-" cape from a state hospital for mentally ill, the super intendent shall order that an immediate search be made ... if he is not soon found, the superintendent shall notify his home county board of mental health. If the patient is found in their county, the board members shall order him to be re turned and shall issue their warrant therefore ... un less the patient shall be dis charged or unless for good reasons they shall provide otherwise for his care . . " Nebraska Attorney Gen eral Clarence M y e r as sessed the statute this way: "The law is vague and is likely to stay so." Most of those who man age state mental institu tions (and Veterans hospi tals since they also have mental wards) say there are few problems attached to the proper return of such escapees. But between these answers and actual practice there lies that gap through which the escapee slips. Escapee Unnoticed For that period of time after his escape he is unat tended and unnoticed un noticed until someone calls the sheriff's office to say, "There's a man picking up pebbles on the highway ANNOUNCEMENT! 'Mi DICK OLSON Now Associated With Bob's Barber Shop 435-9323 1313 P . JJ ft1 ' -"ZSt"' 'I south of here. He says they are black diamonds. Some one ought to have a look at him." f that someone is a doc tor in a mental institution, then what happens? Dr. Richard Gray, superin tendent of the Nebraska State Hospital, said, "There is a fair exchange mehod with out-of-state escapees. We transfer them after tem porary commitment here. Of course, we don't want to assume permanent financial responsibility for another stale's patient, so we trans fer him as soon as it is con venient. We may send one of our staff members with him, or, if he's well enough, we may send him by bus or tra;-" Veterans Hospital Direc tor Dr. J. M. Boykin of Lin coln said, "If we have to care for an out-of-state es capee it's an unanticipated' expense. We will pay to send him home and we will pay - to retrieve one of our es capees if he's within the state. But if he goes to Kan sas, for instance, they have to pay if we're to get him back." A police chief supported the transfer method. "If we have an out-of-state escapee and negotiation with that state looks like it may t!:e weeks," he said, "we'!! find someone to file a complaint, have the person taken be fore the county sanity board and committed here. Then correspondence is the re sponsibility of the hospital. Transaction with some states is hopeless. We might turn him loose if he doesn't look dangerous." Another officer suggested it would be considerable sav ing to spnd .y $1,000 a year to transfer patients un der the, compact than the $10,000 to prosecute an es capee who is ignored until, he commits a crime. Jailing Policy Another outstate sheriff said his policy has been to jail mental escapees and contact the sanity board. "But if they're not danger ous, we might give them a bus ticket so they'd leave. The bulletins we see from other states say transporta tion is guaranteed only if , ,he's f ound in, .his , , h o m e state. Once that escapee gets out of the state, he's as good as free." But other examples are available. A Nebraska escapee wound up in Missouri. The home county sheriff said, "We did not want to be re sponsible for what that boy might do in Missouri so I went and got him." The same sheriff traveled to Wyoming to recover a Nebraska escapee and the expense was borne by the patient's guardian. But what happens when this officer apprehends an other state's escapees? "We'll try to find tran sportation for him," he said. "If he's not too bad, we may turn him loose. And granted, sometimes it's just at the county line. The county will jump on me if I leave him around here." Extradition Problem Don Brock pointed to the extradition problem with mental escapees. Laws most generally say that no person is subject to extra dition (mandatory return to against him in the state a state) until a criminal charge has been made which demands jurisdiction of him. Only to those who have been declared crimi nally insane could this ap ply. . "The law concerning ap prehension and return of mental patients is inade quate," Brock said. "Per- A COOD TEACHERS AGENCY DAVIS ENROLL NOW Established 1918 Serving the Mis souri Valfey to the) West Coast. 529 Stuart Bids. Lincoln 8, Nebr. JUST FOM FU1V Spend your leisure at the Beach SWIM IN THE BEAUTIFUL LAKESIDE POOL! POOL OPEN JYS Turn right 1 mile haps escape should be made a felony so there would be responsibility for return. Or make a uni form code, reciprocal agreements between all, states." Those who support the interstate compact, like Dr. Harold Freund, clinical di rector of the state hospital in Fulton, Missouri, would agree with Brock. "Between compact states exchange works f 1 n e," Freund said. "Expense is charged to the returning state. Negotiation is much more difficult with a non compact state. If a guard ian will not pay the expense of return, then we assume responsibility at the state line. Illinois, for example, is not a compact state, so we may meet them on a bridge at the state line for exchange." South Dakota is Nebras ka's only other compact neighbor. Dr. Cecil Baker of the Yankton State Hospital said, "If our escapee is ap prehended in another state, it becomes a matter of in agreeable to all institutions involved, he may be re turned. On the other hand, he may not." Provides for Return The compact does not ob ligate return, only provides for it. The best interests of the patient and the hospi tals are paramount to the mandatory return to the home state. Exchange be tween noncompact states or one compact member and a noncompact state takes .place more by chance than by prearranged agreement, it would appear. Dr. James O. Cromwell, Iowa commissioner of men tal health, said "If a Nebras ka patient winds up in Iowa and is dangerous, we will commit him and contact Ne braska authorities. If he is to be returned, we will bear expenses. Of course, if he's not dangerous, we may nev er have picked him up." Kansas Director of Insti tutional Management, Dr. Robert A. Haines, said the sending state must bear ex- 4$ A X SH on West "0' I 1 "A pt :e to return Kansas es capees. "And we would do the same for another state, once we verify residence." (But here a$ ' , a '"spi tal may list escapees as "discharged" and former residence is difficult to es tablish.) More effort seems to be spent for the return of the criminally insane. Dr. J. Douglas Sharpe, as sistant superintendent for the Colorado State Hospital at Pueblo, said, "If the es capee is a felon, we will go to the ends of the globe to recover him. When appre hended, he will be returned under police es rt at our expense. Handled Individually "If they are not dangerous and not a felon, each case is handled individually. Yes, sometimes they are released outright. But each case should depend on the safety of the individual and soci ety." In spite of the intentions and methods of the law and hospitals, a great number of escapees are never re covered. An accurate com parison is not possible be cause bookkeeping varies from state to state. Roughly, the comparison for 'Nebras ka and border states is this: Nebraska, 1951-1 Ml Escapes Return (4 hospitals) 716 474 Colorado. 1957-1961 Escapes Returns (Colo. State Hosp.) 2,953 2,298 Iowa. 1960-190! Those on unauth- Returned. , orized leave, de- discharged parted or changed or separated status. (Iowa state hosps.) 410 344 South Dakota, 1950-1962 Escapes Returns (State hosp.) 140 103 Missouri, 1961-1W2 Those on unauth- Returns orized absence (5 state hosps.) 492 415 Kansas. 1961-1962 Escapes Returns ' 557 ' (3 state hosps.) "Practically all" The Missouri statistician said that under the inter state compact, fiscal year 1961-62, Missouri received 85 escapees who were legal Missouri residents and transferred 20 back to home states under compact pro visons." Those provisions were first approved in 1955 by the Northeast State Govern - H - H IT'S StttnN6." T). QUALITY GREETING CARDS for Every Occasion GOLDENROD STATIONERY STORE 21S North 14th FAST DEPENDABLE ONE DAY Laundry and Cleaning fJ3EGt LAUNDRY AND CLEANERS i 10 CASH & CARRY 239 N 14th HE 2-5262 ments Conference on Men- tal Health and has been adopted by 25 states. The compact is in the form of a legally binding agreement among party states, to be adhered to by uniform rati fication by the legislatures. It outlines procedures on escape bulletins, jailing, commitment, transfer and cost. Whh no state com mits itself to provide space and treatment if facilutes are unavailable, the com pect does declare that no person in need of care shall be denied it on the ground that his legal resi dence or citizenship is else where. Parties to the compact say the results have been more satisfactory futures for the patients and more adequate protection of the public safe -ty. Interstate Compact Is the Interstate Compact on Mental Health advan tageous? Does it grout the cracks in state laws? And, if so, does Nebraska need it? Dr. Cecil Wittson, direc tor of the Nebraska Psychi atric Institute, agrees that the compact would be help ful, "but maybe not as necessary here as in some other states." "Nebraska law is not spe cific," Wittson said, "but we have been liberal about the care of all patients. We can and do admit out-of-staters who can't afford it otherwise. The fear is that we would be taking care of more out-of-staters than we would normally." Wittson said he had tried to introduce the compact proposal before the legisla ture four years ago and that it is under study again. "The compact as a hu mane purpose," he said, "and when accepted by the country as a whole, it would pay dividends both in dol lar terms and in terms of better care." Meanwhile, the calls come in to police and sheriff of fices: "There's a fellow picking up pebbles on the highway south of here. He says they are black dia monds. Someone ought to - ..i'.jf' miii .g-aw-w' t: ft t'fi g .',5 Mi CI-),-.. tux-Trm.