Insanity plea in Oregon costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars

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The cost to taxpayers in Oregon for just one inmate in its state mental hospital system is a staggering $17,661 per month, according an investigative report in the Oregonian. The cost of housing an inmate in one of the state’s prisons is just $2,569.

Wayne Richards, 27, a non-violent offender with a record of mental health issues, was arrested after stealing a scooter at a local shopping center. Previously, he had a record of low-level crimes including drug possession, trespassing and theft.

In August 2009, he pleaded guilty except for insanity because he thought he would get help in the state hospital that he couldn’t get while on the outside, and also receive free food and housing.

Shortly thereafter, he found out that he would be under the supervision of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for five years — twice the time that he would have been in prison.

According to the Oregonian, over the course of five years, the cost to taxpayers will be more than $1 million.

Last week, there were 503 patients at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem such as Richards, some violent, although most of them are not. Many of them would have received sentences of probation for their offenses, except for their insanity pleas.

While the state is paying tens of thousands of dollars each month for the inmates, others in the prison system have limited mental health care, and thousands more on the streets have no treatment at all.

Information from: The Oregonian

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