1 in 6 people has a common mental illness at some point in their life (Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2000).
About 1% of the population experience schizophrenia at some point in their lives (Mental Health Foundation, 1999).
About 1% of the population experience manic depression at some point in their lives (Mental Health Foundation, 1999).
1 in 200 people have experienced a psychotic illness in the last year (Singleton, Psychiatric Morbidity, 2000).
The average age of onset of psychotic symptoms is 22 (Department of Health, 2001)
Deprived areas and rural districts have the highest levels of mental health problems and suicides (ONS, 2001).
People from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are 3-5 times more likely than others to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia. (Mental Health Foundation, 1999)
About 25% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will make a full recovery; about 60% of people will have fluctuating symptoms; about 10-15% of people experience long term incapacity (Mental Health Foundation, 1999).
35% of people with mental illness are unemployed but want to work (ONS, 2003), the highest want to work rate of any disability.
Only 1 in 4 employers said that they would knowingly employ someone with a history of mental illness (Manning et al, 1995).
Three quarters of employers say that it would be difficult or impossible to employ someone diagnosed with schizophrenia (DWP, 2003).
Less than 5% of people who kill a stranger have symptoms of mental illness (Department of Health, 2001).
People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence (Walsh, 2003).
More than 1 in 4 people with severe mental illness report being shunned when seeking help (Rethink, 2003).
30% of GPs’ time is spent with people with mental health problems (Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (Maudsley Monograph, 2002).
44% of people with mental health problems report discrimination from general practioners, such as physical health problems not being taken seriously (Mental Health Foundation, 2002).
Almost 80% of carers for someone with a severe mental illness say that caring has had an impact on own their mental health (Rethink, 2003).
Almost 80% of carers for someone with a severe mental illness say that caring has had an impact on their own physical health (Rethink, 2003).
Only 48% of mental health professionals know about local policies on sharing information with carers (Rethink/IoP, 2006).
Mental health problems cost the economy untold billions per year through care costs, economic losses and premature death. (Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, 2003).
21% of people with schizophrenia have a dual diagnosis (Cantwell, 2003).
Up to half of people dependent on alcohol have a mental health problem (Turning Point, 2003).
People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder die 10 years younger due to physical health problems (British Journal of Psychiatry, 2000) and have double the average rate of heart disease (British Journal of Psychiatry, 2006) and five times the average rate of diabetes (Department of Health, 2004).
People with severe mental illness smoke twice as much as average, do half as much exercise and eat less fruit and vegetables than average (Running on empty report, 2005).
Mary Claire Buckley, the executive director of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the Department of Administrative Services.
Spokeswoman Amy Velez said the reason could not be disclosed because it is a personnel matter.
Juliet Follansbee, the program manager for PSRB, is filling in for Buckley during her absence.
The PSRB consists of a small staff and ten board members appointed by the governor. It has jurisdiction over people in Oregon found “guilty except for insanity” of a crime. Since 2005, it has also had jurisdiction over youth found “responsible except for insanity.”
The board has the authority to commit a person to the Oregon State Hospital, conditionally release or discharge a person from the hospital, or revoke that release.
Buckley has been the executive director of the PSRB for more than 20 years. In 2011, a state investigation found that she had verbally abused an Oregon State Hospital patient. The report called her behavior “coercing” and “disrespectful” and said she exercised “poor judgment.”
Marion County Circuit Court records show there are no cases open against Buckley or the PSRB, and the three civil cases that have ever been filed against Buckley by people under PSRB jurisdiction have all be dismissed. The most recent was filed in July 2008.
An open house at ColumbiaCare’s “Bell Cove” residence.
ColumbiaCare hosted a housewarming party Monday afternoon, inviting all its neighbors to check out its new digs on Cove Road in Brookings Monday.
The five-bedroom house blends in with its neighbors on the block, and starting next month will be home to five residents — three men and two women — from the Oregon State Hospital who will work to improve their social skills, become independent and integrate themselves into the community.
The residents are evaluated by the state Psychiatric Security Review Board and could have, except for their mental illness, been found guilty of a crime.
The facility, called Bell Cove, is a less-restrictive environment that will be overseen by an administrator around the clock and a nurse five days each week to help clients there adapt to a life outside an institution.
“There is the notion out there that people with mental illness are in some way dangerous, that they are to be feared,” said ColumbiaCare spokeswoman Jennifer Sewitsky. “Not only are they active in their recovery, there is a lot of supervision and care. It is a very responsible process.”
“This is built as a medical facility,” said Mary Claire Buckley of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board. “They have the right to live in a community. We want to make sure their transition is a positive and safe one.”
Some might not make the full transition, depending on their mental and physical health needs, but live out their lives in a facility that provides them the tools to reach their maximum potential.
The clients here have varying degrees of mental health and physical limitations; they range in age from 48 into their 70s.
Most of the construction costs were provided by the state, with ColumbiaCare Services of Medford picking up the rest. Ongoing costs are provided, in part, by the clients’ income, usually Social Security or disability funds.
ColumbiaCare offers five types of residential treatment facilities, ranging from supportive and transitional housing — arguably the most minimal of security — to secure residential treatment facilities, which are locked to protect the community.
“We look at where there is property, where there is support in the community,” Sewitsky said of selecting Brookings. “This is where we landed and thought we could do a good job. We’re really excited. We get to provide services to five individuals working at a high level of recovery, moving on and getting better.”
All clients are expected to treat each other and those in the community with kindness and respect, and are rated at different levels, depending on their capabilities and achievements, to earn more freedom.
Those with diminished capabilities might learn about street safety and to read a neighborhood map, while others might have the freedom to leave the house for designated periods of time on their own.
Things such as personal expectations, participation, compliance with house rules and community involvement are taken into consideration before such license is granted.
The facility itself was designed with the idea of being everything a home has to offer — and if comments made by neighbors were any indication, there was a little bit of jealousy held at bay. Some in attendance commented that they’d like to have a house as nice as Bell Cove.
“It’ll be quite a change,” said administrator and nurse Judy Smith. “We hope it’s a change for the better.”
“We want to have homes for our clients that we’d like to live in,” Buckley said. “I’m sure they’ll be very excited to be here.”
“You have to look at it from their perspective,” Smith said. “If I or a family member required such services, this is what I’d like to see instilled in it.”
The home opens into a large kitchen and gathering area, features a quieter room for reading or games, laundry facilities and five bedrooms with half-baths. A common shower area can accommodate wheelchairs.
The motif, of course, is nautical, with statuettes of terns and gulls on bookcases and brass gas lanterns, Japanese floats and photos of the beach adorning the interior. Outside, a brass bell hangs in the eaves. The walls are a soothing ocean blue — the paint so fresh, it could be smelled — the wood floors glow in the sunlight and the wainscoted kitchen cabinets feature a faux scuffing that adds to the ambience.
The spacious backyard features raised gardens where residents can grow vegetables for use in their meals, in which they are involved in planning and making.
A separate room offers privacy for meetings with family and counselors, and “the bridge” offers the 17 staff members a full view of the common areas and serves as an office.
Such facilities, Buckley said, have a 2 percent recidivism rate. The state hospital and the county mental health officials must approve each resident to assure it’s a good fit with the community and the clients’ needs.
“It’s their home,” Smith said. “And we’re a family.”
A 48-year-old man with a long history of mental illness was sentenced Monday to more than 12½ years in federal prison — as he had requested — for robbing a Eugene bank hours after his release from state prison in January.
Adam Parrish Ashe
Adam Parrish Ashe asked U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken to “do us all a favor” by imposing the sentence, saying he needed the structure of prison and “maybe I’d get some help there.”
Aiken said society “should be absolutely appalled” that prison has become the only option for the mentally ill.
“Shame on us,” she said. “I hope for the sake of other people that what you’ve said today will be heard.”
Defense attorney Bryan Lessley said he recommended reluctantly that Aiken impose the sentence because of his client’s concerns “for his own security and safety.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sweet sought the same penalty “not out of a desire to punish Mr. Ashe, but out of a desire to protect the public.”
Both the government and Lessley had expected Ashe to be committed to the custody of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board in connection with an arson fire that led to his state prison sentence, Sweet said Monday.
Both federal and state prosecutors had jurisdiction in that May 26, 2009, incident because it was a U.S. Post Office in Roseburg where Ashe broke a window, entered and started a fire in a wastebasket with a propane torch.
A police officer removed the burning can before the fire could damage the building, but Ashe reportedly started the fire because he was angry with the federal government.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office dismissed the federal case, however, after Lessley filed notice that he intended to pursue a “guilty but for insanity defense” to the state court arson charge. Had an Oregon State Hospital psychiatric evaluation shown that Ashe was incapacitated by mental illness, he could have been committed to the authority of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for 20 years.
Persons under the board’s jurisdiction can be housed in the state hospital or a variety of residential treatment settings.
But Ashe’s evaluation determined that he was “malingering” — feigning symptoms — and he was instead sentenced in September 2011 to 23 months in state prison, with credit for time served in jail since his arrest. That led to his release from prison just four months later.
State corrections officials put him on a bus with instructions to report to a Roseburg parole office, Aiken said Monday.
Instead, Ashe got off the bus in Eugene, walked to Home Federal Bank at 899 Pearl St. and gave a teller a note demanding money, falsely stating that he had a gun. Ashe left behind his prison identification card when he walked out with the cash. He was arrested minutes later, telling police he wanted to go back to prison. All the money was recovered.
Lessley and Sweet both told Aiken they believed Ashe to be genuinely mentally ill. If he was feigning symptoms, the defense attorney said, he’d been doing it since at least age 18.
Aiken then read aloud portions of a confidential history submitted by Lessley. She noted that Ashe had 10 separate psychiatric hospitalizations in South Carolina between 1982 and 1990. The first came when Ashe was 18.
His mother reported that her son’s hallucinations included “20-foot snakes” and that he was sniffing Liquid Paper. A Minnesota Social Security disability board in 1994 declared Ashe disabled by severe major depression and alcohol-related dementia, noting that he suffered auditory hallucinations and had made multiple suicide attempts.
After he came to Oregon, a police officer once found Ashe “sitting in fire” he’d ignited.
Ashe told Aiken he robbed the bank because he saw no other options.
“The only way that I can see getting any help is to escalate in my criminal behavior simply to get some more time in prison with time for my own reflections,” he told Aiken, later adding that he’s afraid of going to prison but “even more terrified of what I’m becoming in society.”
Aiken criticized the Oregon prison system for failing to provide structure for Ashe upon his release.
“It’s not good public safety to just lock you up and have no place when you come out,” she said.
Aiken recommended that he serve his sentence at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Missouri or in a mental health program at Oregon’s Sheridan Federal Correctional Institution. She also pledged that the federal court would provide better re-entry services when Ashe completes his new sentence.
Hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances gathered in the St. Helens High School auditorium for a memorial service to honor Jennifer Warren on June 3.
Warren, who worked at Columbia Community Mental health as a mental health worker, was fatally stabbed two weeks earlier while delivering medications to a patient. That patient, later identified as Brent Redd Jr., in now being held on murder charges at Oregon State Hospital. Warren was just three days shy of her 40th birthday.
Rather than remembering the tragic way her life ended, the memorial service focused instead on the positive way Warren lived. Family members often described her as the kind of person who would tell you the truth, no matter how much that truth might hurt, but always in a loving and caring way.
Sister Shirley Warren II said it was important to Jennifer Warren to share her positive approach to life with others in her hometown and never traveled too far away.
“My sister did many selfless acts for me through the years,” said Shirley Warren II. “She taught me that honesty might sound brutal and that it does not have an expiration date.”
She said her sister had also made great strides in life and that she stood her ground when it came to those things she believed in. “She had achieved a certain generosity about her that I am so grateful for and proud of,” she said.
Younger brother Kenny Warren Jr. recalled his older sister’s never ending support.
“Jennifer was a good big sister. She was always there for me when I needed help,” he said. “And she would always give me her honest opinion. Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.”
Joining family members in paying tribute were Warren’s coworkers from CCMH. While they may have been colleagues, many of her coworkers also considered Warren a treasured friend.
Julie Knapp had known Warren since her coming to work at CCMH nearly a decade earlier. In preparation for the service, Knapp spent time during the week prior talking with others to hear their thoughts and remembrances.
“I found that there was a theme when talking about Jennifer. Her smile was on top of the list and how it became contagious. It made me wonder if Jennifer thought, ‘If I smile, others will too,’ as that seemed to be the result,” Knapp said.
She went on to add that along with her reliability, Warren was most remembered for her generous nature, citing a time when Warren donated unused vacation to another employee and how she would often rescue stray cats and find them homes,
“Her follow through and responsiveness to others and how she gave praise or let you know when she was upset with you were all qualities of Jennifer’s that her co-workers remembered” said Knapp. “She was able to draw people in and make you a friend. She was never just a co-worker.”
Following the memorial service, family and close friends gathered for a private reception.
The death of a health care worker in St. Helens is a tragedy. The bigger tragedy is that this could have been prevented.
I have spent several years trying to sound the alarm of a dangerous state policy that relaxes the classification of Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) patients in order to move them into our neighborhoods and near schools.
The danger I warned about was that someone does not become a PSRB patient because you have a “mental health issue.” One becomes a PSRB patient by committing a heinous or violent act, getting arrested and going before a judge. Typically the state (DHS) then gets the DA not to pursue a criminal case and the judge sends the individual to the state hospital. After 24-36 months, the individual is moved to your neighborhood without law enforcement notification and all criminal charges evaporate. I have seen this.
In some of these cases, the state then claims the individual is disabled and bills the feds. PSRB patients are now starting to be housed with the developmentally disabled. It is my understanding that this is Medicare fraud and I have reported this to the appropriate congressional committees.
For several years I have repeatedly stated that someone is going to get killed. Health workers are not law enforcement. Assaults, rapes and child molestation routinely have occurred around these “homes.” During the last three sessions of the legislature, I have tried to get them to address this issue, including law enforcement notification. Leadership on both sides rejected it.
Instead of action, the legislature folded the issue into health care reforms and limited the PSRB’s ability to protect citizens and employees. On the record during these times through the Association of Oregon Counties, I am the ONLY COMMISSIONER outside of Linn County on record opposing this increased safety risk to citizens.
It has unfortunately become a lonely business trying to stand up for public safety in Oregon. My question then becomes: How many more children will be victimized and how many more people will die before elected officials in Oregon take this issue seriously?
I have to respectfully disagree with Commissioner Lindsey’s letter about the danger of insanity (Mailbag, May 31).
I have spent the last seven years studying the Oregon mental health system with the goal of helping my son get out from under it. Our greatest obstacle is the prejudice, misinformation, and outright disgust our society has towards the mentally ill. Information like Mr. Lindsey’s can only hurt.
The PSRB is charged with maintaining public safety, period. Patients are placed under the jurisdiction of the PSRB after a guilty but insane conviction of a crime; it doesn’t have to be heinous or violent. The conviction remains on the record; it doesn’t evaporate.
Only the PSRB can decide who stays in the state hospital, or a residential treatment facility, and for how long. The state cannot influence or order the PSRB to move patients into residential treatment facilities. The board does not concern itself with the fact that it costs Oregon taxpayers $750 per day per patient to house them in the state hospital or that the hospital is overcrowded. The board does not care if the patient has family and if life in the hospital is detrimental to him.
It is very difficult for a PSRB patient to get moved to a group home. It takes literally years for the patient to prove he or she is not a danger. Once in the group home, they follow a strict regime of supervision.
In all my previous research I had never found any evidence of residents of those homes assaulting, raping or molesting children. I did find a statistic that out in the last 10 years out of 1,300 placements there were 12 who committed new crimes. The overall recidivism rate is 2.2 percent over 34 years. Compared to 31 percent for the Department of Corrections.
The murder in St. Helens was the first in PSRB history. I don’t know much of the details but I am willing to predict that all the current PSRB patients are going to pay for it, only because of their diagnosis and the overall contempt.
After reading Commissioner Lindsey’s letter to the editor (Mailbag, May 31, 2012) regarding Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) patients, I felt it important to bring another perspective to the issue.
My concern is that Commissioner Lindsey’s letter has the potential to generate unnecessary fear in the hearts and minds of our community and only increases the stigma of those who suffer a mental illness.
That statistic clearly shows that PSRB patients are actually less likely to reoffend than those who are not PSRB patients. This fact sheet also states that in the last 10 years, only 12 people out of the more than 1,200 who were first placed on conditional releases have been charged with new felonies.
For those in the community who suffer a mental illness or who are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon PSRB, please do not let one man’s words cause you unnecessary harm. You are a valuable member of our community with an illness that is sometimes misunderstood. My experience in talking with legislators and community leaders regarding the issues surrounding mental illness is that they do not share Commissioner Lindsey’s perspective.
As a community, let us learn the facts regarding mental illness and the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board, and may we be cautious with our words, as our words have the power to bring peace or promote fear and injustice.
The Psychiatric Security Review Board is fairly modest about its existence. There’s little useful information provided in a obvious place on the web – so we created this web site to list the staff contact information and relevant statutes.
Filling in for a co-worker on the weekend shift, Jennifer Warren stepped into Brent Redd‘s home last Sunday morning to deliver his anti-psychotic medication.
Doctors, though, were reducing Redd’s dosage in preparation for a medical procedure. Committed to the Oregon State Hospital five years ago for trying to murder his mother, Redd had been released to living semi-independently in a St. Helens duplex. The 30-year-old was stable, even holding down a job at a thrift store.
But he was worried about being taken off his drug therapy.
“He was scared,” said his mother, Debbie Redd, who lives in The Dalles. “Those meds are what regulate him every day.”
Later Sunday, Redd was arrested in Warren’s fatal stabbing. Redd reportedly called 911, and St. Helens Police Chief Steve Salle said police recovered a kitchen knife as evidence. Prosecutors charged Redd Thursday with Warren’s murder.
The St. Helens homicide is in many ways unusual. Redd was under the supervision of the Psychiatric Security Review Board. The homicide is the program’s first in about 30 years, but it raises troubling questions about safety and protocols:
Should caseworkers travel in pairs and take precautions when medications are changed? Who makes the rules? Does the state do enough to protect health care providers, the community and the patients themselves?
Many questions can’t be answered until the investigation is complete. Dr. Joseph Bloom, former head of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, said officials should determine whether a solo visit by Warren was appropriate considering Redd’s dosing. “I would expect that the programs involved would do a lot to understand what happened.”
The psychiatric board supervises criminal defendants judged guilty except for insanity in felony cases, roughly 600 in Oregon.
Many were convicted of murder or attempted murder like Redd, while other charges include arson and sex abuse. Currently, 183 are in the Oregon State Hospital and 413 are on conditional release.
Two dozen locked facilities around the state house 76 of those on conditional release, while 175 are in residential treatment centers or supervised adult foster homes. About 64 live semi-independently, in housing where a staff member lives, and the rest live on their own.
The psychiatric board’s five members, appointed by the governor, act as judge and parole office. For each felon judged guilty except for insanity, the board is advised by mental health professionals and county officials and decides:
Whether patients can be released from the state hospital. For Redd, found guilty except for insanity in the attempted murder of his mother in 2007, a judge decided on 20 years of supervision. The psychiatric board sent Redd to the state hospital and, in its 2009 review, kept him there.
Where they can be released. The psychiatric board in September 2010 released Redd to a residential treatment center in St. Helens. In May 2011, it approved his transfer to a duplex supervised by Columbia Community Mental Health, the nonprofit that provided his day-to-day therapy and monitoring.
Conditions of release. Redd took random weekly drug tests, attended group therapy sessions five times a week, saw his therapist weekly and his caseworker checked in twice a day. He attended three substance abuse meetings a week and passed random drug tests weekly. He had to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and swallow medication in front of a caseworker.
Mary Claire Buckley, executive director of the psychiatric board, said monthly reports indicated Redd was doing well.
The psychiatric board has been under fire for years by lawmakers and mental health advocates saying it is too strict. In the last 15 years, of more than 1,600 people released from the hospital, 15 people have committed felonies while under board supervision, including three since 2009.
Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote says the tragedy shows public safety should be the priority when it comes to people with a history of violence.
“I hope this is a wake-up call,” he said.
Bob Joondeph of Disability Rights Oregon, sees it differently: “We think it’s very important to understand what happened here, but not to jump the gun and not to paint everyone with the same brush.”
Oregon spends about $400 million a year on mental health, about half on local programs like the one Redd was in, Columbia Community Mental Health, which receives more than $3 million yearly. The state inspects nonprofits every three years.
Columbia Community Mental Health, which employed Warren, declined to be interviewed. But according to state and other county officials, providers are directed to set their own safety policies.
The state requires crisis response training for caseworkers. They don’t carry defensive weapons such as pepper spray due to legal issues, mental health officials said.
“You have to have training — you can harm people,” said Schneider.
There is no standard policy on when a solo visit is appropriate.
It’s not uncommon for caseworkers to visit patients individually, but they need to be cautious, said Greg Schneider of Lifeworks, which provides mental health services in Malheur and Umatilla counties. “If that person had anything happen in their life recently or had any mental health deterioration, then you may not want to go out alone,” he said.
NO SIGNS OF TROUBLE
In April, Redd’s mother said he was being weaned off anti-psychotic medication for Hepatitis C treatment. It had taken years to find the right medication to keep his paranoia and schizophrenia at bay. She asked him if it was a good idea, and recalls his response:
“They told me it’s going to be OK,” he told her. “They told me that I will know. That I’ll see signs” if there are problems.
Redd’s caregivers knew about the medication change, said Gina Nikkel, a consultant with Warren’s employer, Columbia County Mental Health, adding that it’s too early to draw conclusions.
“People feel that he was not a risk,” she said. “Columbia mental health staff were doing everything in accord with the protocols that have been used for a long time.”
Redd’s roommate also said there was no sign of trouble. “He was being double and tripled monitored. How on earth could they have known that this would have happened?”
The state is reviewing whether state and county rules and provider policies are adequate.
On Thursday, Linda Hammond, interim director of the state Addictions and Mental Health Division, met with county mental health directors from around the state.
A parallel state investigation is looking at the care Redd received, while the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division is examining whether Warren’s death was preventable.
After his arrest, Redd was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Medical Center to treat wounds that were apparently self-inflicted. He’s expected to be arraigned soon in Columbia County.
A makeshift memorial to Warren, a 39-year-old single mother, has sprung up on the front lawn of Redd’s unit, one of four in two ranch-style buildings situated on a corner.
Brent K. Redd Jr. seemed to be turning his life around. For a year, he lived in an apartment in St. Helens under the care of Columbia Community Mental Health.
He was taking his medication. He attended group therapy sessions five times a week. He saw his own therapist weekly and his caseworker checked in on him twice a day. He also attended three substance abuse meetings a week and passed drug tests weekly.
But Sunday morning, the 30-year-old man who was committed in 2007 for trying to strangle his mother was taken into custody in the death of Jennifer Warren, a 39-year-old mental health worker who delivered his medication.
Warren died from stab wounds to the chest, according to the state medical examiners office. Steve Salle, St. Helens police chief, said Redd suffered knife wounds to the neck and throat and was taken to a Portland hospital for treatment. When he’s recovered, he’ll be arraigned, likely for murder.
“It’s a very tragic situation,” said Mary Claire Buckley, executive director of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.
The killing stunned the board, which has had jurisdiction for Redd since he pleaded guilty except for insanity in 2007. Buckley said the board had no indication that Redd was not doing well.
“I’ve never had any concern expressed by his community provider about his performance,” Buckley said.
Since 1978, the board has supervised more than 1,400 people who’ve been found guilty except for insanity. Only 2 percent have committed new crimes.
Redd was born in Burley, Idaho, and grew up with two half brothers and a sister, said his paternal grandmother, Doris Stanger, who lives in Idaho. His parents, Brent K. Redd Sr. and Debra Redd, moved the family to Oregon when Redd Jr. was about 10 but Stanger said she and her husband would take the children for weeks at a time as the parents struggled.
She saw no indication that BJ — as Brent Redd Jr. was called — had mental problems when he was young. But he acted out as an adult. In 1999, he was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to a three-year probation term. His probation was revoked in 2001 for theft, vehicle theft, a drug charge and burglary.
Redd served nearly 2 1/2 years in prison, released in June 2004. The following year, he was living with his mother at her home in The Dalles. In August, he tried to kill her. Debra Redd said that she got up, made coffee and asked if he wanted some. He said no. Then, she sat on the sofa and turned on the TV. She told police he came over, sat down, turned the TV off and suddenly started choking her.
“Go to sleep Mom, go to sleep,” she told police he said.
She fought and managed to flee but he came after her. She passed out and was lying on the street, gasping for breath and with a bloody knee and elbow, when he caught up.
“Look at you; we need to get you help,” she quoted him as saying.
He told her voices in his head made him do it. He tried to pick her up but she ran to a neighbor’s home. When police arrived, Redd shot his hands into the air.
He mumbled to police that Mother Nature made him do it and in jail, withdrew into himself.
“He would sit in his cell and not communicate with anyone,” said Eric Nisley, Wasco County district attorney. But after being seen by medical staff, his condition improved.
“His mental status improved dramatically,” Nisley said.
He was eventually committed to Oregon State Hospital, under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.
Buckley said that in August 2010, hospital staff recommended that he be placed on conditional release. The board asked Columbia Community Mental Heath, which offers the services he would need, for a second evaluation. That agency agreed he was ready.
“They interviewed and agreed that he could be adequately controlled and treated in the community,” she said.
The agency reported to the board monthly on his progress. The reports said he was following the terms of his release.
News of the stabbing shocked Warren’s relatives. Shirley Warren, 33, Jennifer Warren’s younger sister, said she’s angry Columbia Community Mental Health allowed her sister to visit an unsecured residence on her own.
Corina Fesler, a 41-year-old mental health worked at the agency, had similar concerns. She too delivered medication to clients under the authority of the board.
“There’s been concerns all along that we go out and do this by ourselves,” Fesler said. “To me, this is kind of the final straw. It just made me sick, because it didn’t have to happen that way. If someone else could have been there, at least she would have had back up.”
Fesler quit on Sunday: “This just isn’t worth it,” she said.
After Warren’s killing, Columbia Community Mental Health told staff they could partner up when visiting clients in the community, an official said.
Monday afternoon, the agency issued a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends after this terrible incident. We are working closely with the proper authorities and have initiated an independent review to ensure the safety of our mental health workers.”
The Columbia County district attorney’s office is still trying to piece together what happened. But one person isn’t surprised by the attack — the Wasco County DA.
“That’s the nature of this guy,” Nisley said. “He’s very scary.”
Slain St. Helens mental health worker ‘took care of people who were struggling’
Jennifer Lynn Warren was killed three days before her 40th birthday, an hour into her Sunday shift as a mental health support worker for Columbia Community Mental Health.
The St. Helens woman who had struggled much of her young adulthood to overcome a methamphetamine addiction had spent the past 10 years giving back to the community, delivering medications to people with mental illness.
“She took care of people who were struggling and she loved them,” said her father, Kenny Warren Sr., 63. “What I taught my kids is helping others is more than any kind of money. I’ve lost an angel.”
Kenny Warren said he was readying to go to church when one of his daughter’s co-workers came to his home with his 22-year-old granddaughter, Jessica Warren. He sensed something was amiss.
The co-worker broke the news. “She said, ‘my daughter is dead,’ ” he recounted. “I think of myself as a strong person, but that just knocked me for a loop. I had to sit down. I felt very weak and dizzy.”
Jennifer Warren lived with a longtime companion and was engaged to marry him this summer. Besides her daughter, she had three sons, but had to give the boys up for adoption, relatives said. Relatives described her drug recovery as successful.
She spent Saturday jet skiing on the Columbia River with a friend, and reported to work by 7 a.m. Sunday.
Jennifer’s daughter, Jessica Warren, said she knew some of the people that her mom delivered medications to had been found guilty except for insanity of various crimes. “I was concerned about her safety. It was something that I brought up to her. But she loved her job,” she said. “My mother was very nice to these people. I don’t know what made the guy snap, but it was definitely out of the ordinary.”
Jessica Warren, who lost a brother to suicide last year and her father to suicide in 2001 (both not related to Jennifer), said she feels lost without her mom. “This isn’t the first tragedy in our family,” she said. “Hopefully, it will be the last.”
Co-workers were crushed by the news. Corina Fesler, 41, who like Jennifer worked as a community support specialist for the non-profit agency, said Jennifer Warren was warm and supportive to clients, and used humor to handle challenges.
When Jennifer Warren wasn’t able to work at one home because a client was having delusions about her, she took it in stride and worked elsewhere, she said.
“She was funny, outgoing,” Fesler said. If anyone needed help, Warren would step in, Fesler said. “I just can’t imagine. She left home yesterday morning to go to work and do her job.”
Amid their sorrow, there is anger.
“We know for a fact that everybody – when these people coming down off their medication, or are changing their medication, anything can happen,” Kenny Warren said. “So the administrators — if they don’t step up and take responsibility — they’re just as guilty as the man who did that.”
Matthew Kirby, a mental health activist in the new group Fair Shake, is challenging the authority of the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board.
For a decade, Rex Gorger had lived at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem following a 2002 conviction for murder in Washington County, where he was found guilty except for insanity.
Matthew Kirby, a mental health activist in the new group Fair Shake, is challenging the authority of the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board.
The 31-year-old Gorger is preparing for a new life after the state Psychiatric Security Review Board approved his release, accepting the hospital’s claim that he was stable.
All he wanted was to avoid the stigma of mental illness that would follow him outside the hospital walls, possibly into a group home or other facility that could limit his freedom.
Today, Gorger is part of a group called PSRB Fair Shake that is promoting state legislation in 2013 to challenge the Psychiatric Security Review Board’s public safety mandate. The group wants to add a clause to the board’s mission statement giving people under its care more autonomy.
In January, four members of Fair Shake asked state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, to sponsor the bill and recruited a Fair Shake member to intern in his office. The group, which has about 30 members, wants the state to loosen its legal grip on people who have been convicted of crimes through the insanity defense.
“The idea of keeping society safe from ‘us crazies’ once we leave the hospital is based on stigma,” says Matthew Kirby, 22, of Portland, one of Fair Shake’s leaders.
In February, Kirby, who had been charged with first-degree burglary and found to be guilty except for insanity in 2009, was appointed to the hospital’s advisory board.
The group’s effort has raised red flags with Mary Claire Buckley, Psychiatric Security Review Board executive director, who says Fair Shake members are giving the public a warped view of their situation.
“They want to pose as these poor mentally ill people that are being mistreated,” Buckley says. “That’s the kind of stuff you’ll hear, but these people committed serious crimes and they chose to insert the insanity defense. Our mission is to protect society.”
According to the board, Only 2.2 percent of its clients commit new felonies after their release, compared to about 27 percent of people who are released from state prisons managed by the Oregon Department of Corrections.
“We should be committed to creating an actually therapeutic system, not just locking people up,” says Greenlick. “It might take three or four sessions.”
A balance of priorities
Buckley became executive director of the board in 1978, around the time the Legislature founded it. John Beatty, a retired Multnomah County senior judge, led a 1975 subcommittee that examined criminal arrests and sentencing for people with mental illnesses.
“It made sense to have control over people with mental illnesses for a longer period of time,” Beatty says. “The problem was, you’d send people to the state hospital, and the hospital would give them meds and turn them loose. There were no requirements to help people stay well after they got out.”
Today, Oregon and Connecticut are the only states with independent adjudicators overseeing people found guilty except for insanity; in other states they are assigned to the courts. The Oregon board’s clients rose from about 300 in 1980 to more than 700 in 2011.
“Maybe it was a bit overrated in the beginning, and that meant defendants flocked to it. And now it’s overly criticized,” says Joel Dvoskin, a forensic psychologist in New York who has trained Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board members.
Imposing limits on people is sometimes considered good care, Dvoskin says. “There’s nothing about the recovery model that says there are no restrictions on personal freedom. It’s a message of hope and autonomy. It’s also about responsibility.”
About half of the board’s clients live in communities today under sometimes strict conditions, a 255 percent increase since 1992. Buckley says the rise reflects the board’s growing ability to balance the priorities of safety and freedom.
Limits on freedom
Following his 2009 conviction for burglary, Kirby found himself sentenced to be under the board’s supervision for 20 years. When Kirby was released from the state hospital to a Southeast Portland group home, he challenged the limits he faced, including a system of graduated freedom — the privilege to leave the house was automatically six months in the future — that he says was superficial.
“We put it in place for security, for the PSRB,” says Eric Sevos, clinical director of forensics at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, a community provider contracting with the state to house Kirby and about 50 other board clients in Multnomah County. “It does feel like it groups folks too much, like it’s not individualized. We were looking at it before, but Kirby put the gas pedal on the scrutiny.”
Sevos says the board’s public safety priority often conflicts with a person’s recovery. “As a social worker, I might want to see a person take a risk, take chances, prove that they can live on their own,” he says. “We might have to talk to that person and say, ‘Look, it’s going to be hard for us to convince the board.’ So that person stays at a certain level of care longer than I think is good for them.”
Kirby and Fair Shake’s members aren’t strangers to advocacy. During the 2011 legislative session, Kirby, then a state hospital resident, wrote letters to lawmakers and testified in support of measures to limit the Psychiatric Security Review Board’s authority. Two of the bills that he supported — House Bill 3100 and Senate Bill 420 — became law in August 2011, reducing some of the board’s authority as of Jan. 1, 2012.
That’s what Fair Shake members say they aim to do more of during the 2013 legislative session, Kirby says. “It’s our Arab spring.