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Scott Walker Again Fails To Protect Public Safety

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on October 30, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

At the beginning of the year, it was reported that the mental health complex was a mess.  Female patients were being sexually assaulted, with at least one ending up in a pregnancy.  There were hundreds of physical assaults occurring.  To top it off, the facility itself was found to be in “shoddy condition“.

The problems continue.

This past weekend, it was reported that a patient was able to run away from the complex and physically assault a neighborhood resident in her own home.  Fortunately, the woman who was assaulted was not seriously injured, but did have her glasses broken as she was punched in the head and face and pushed to the ground.  What makes the incident really scary is that there were young children in the home at the time of the assault.

Ironically, the patient that was able to walk off the unit and climb a fence to get to the neighbor’s home was the same woman who was sexually assaulted and impregnated.

The patient was most likely to be able to leave for two main reasons.

One, the state had ordered that the units of Hilltop be unlocked units.  It was deemed that having these patients on a locked unit was a violation of their civil rights.

The second reason is the same as why the sexual assaults were happening with such alarming frequency.  The insufficient staffing levels are simply too low, which is a result of Walker’s continuous cutting of staff and services for these most vulnerable citizens.

If there are not enough staff on the unit, it is simply physically impossible to monitor everyone effectively.  This is even more true if you have patients on a one-to-one status, or if there is some activity or disturbance, such as meal time or another patient acting out.  While the few staff that are there are busy, it is relatively easy for a patient to just walk out, since the door is unlocked.

This is not a sudden problem either.  It was reported that staffing levels were too low three years ago when patient on staff assaults had jumped by 50% over the already too high number.

It was also three years ago when Walker decided to reject a proposal to have a secure unit created at the mental health complex, further endangering these already vulnerable citizens.

To make the incident of the escape and subsequent assault even more unpalatable is that the incident occurred more than a week before it was ever reported on JSOnline.  Walker knew about this and said nothing.

To even further exasperate the issue, on the same day that the story finally found its way to the public attention, Walker was quoted as saying “In the end, when you’re the chief executive officer, the buck stops with you.”

It is questionable whether Walker realized this applies to him as well.


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