Blind Hostage-taker released from psychiatric hospital

Blind Hostage-taker released from psychiatric hospital
By SF

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A former Fairfield University student who held 26 students and their professor hostage with a fake bomb for hours in 2002 has won his release from a Connecticut mental hospital.

Bridgeport Superior Court Judge George Thim determined Friday that Patrick Arbelo, 31, no longer poses a danger to himself or others and can be released. Arbelo, who smiled as he heard the decision in court Friday, will live with his father in an undisclosed location.

State prosecutors opposed his release, but state mental health professionals and the state Psychiatric Security Review Board determined Arbelo is no longer dangerous.
Arbelo, who was a Fairfield University student from Bridgeport, was found not guilty of kidnapping charges by reason of insanity after the incident on Feb. 12, 2002. None of the hostages were injured in the incident, which ended peacefully.

Police said Arbelo walked into a class on Voices of Medieval Women and announced to the class and professor that he had a bomb in his knapsack. He threatened to detonate it if anyone approached him, and he also pulled out a knife, police said.
Over the course of seven hours, Arbelo gradually released the students and eventually surrendered to police without incident.

Arbelo wanted a written statement and a list of five books read over the radio in New York City. The statement aired his views against Jews and blacks.

Arbelo, who was legally blind at the time of the incident, is now completely blind.

Christine Naungayan, a psychiatrist hired to evaluate Arbelo, said Friday in court that while technically Arbelo still suffers a mental illness, he has progressed well.

He will have to remain on medication for the rest of his life, Naungayan said.

Hearing to consider moving killer to residential facility

Hearing to consider moving killer to residential facility
by Rick Bella, The Oregonian
Monday January 05, 2009, 3:12 PM

A hearing has been reset for Wednesday on the proposed transfer of convicted murder Christopher Darrell Persyn of Beavercreek from the state hospital to a secure residential facility opening in Pendleton.

Persyn’s hearing, initially set for Dec. 22, was postponed due to weather.

Persyn, 36, pleaded guilty to killing his father in 1998, then stabbing his 13-year-old nephew five times and strangling his 10-year-old niece. Both survived.

Persyn was sentenced to a life of supervision under the state Psychiatric Security Review Board and has been living in the Oregon State Hospital.

Hospital officials now say Person is a candidate for transfer to a smaller secure facility that is opening in Pendleton. Victims, police and prosecutors are opposing the move.

The hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Oregon State Hospital, 50 Building, Conference Room 106, 2600 Center St. N.E., Salem.

For more information, call the Psychiatric Security Review Board at 503-229-5596.

— Rick Bella: rickbella@news.oregonian.com

State Wants to Make Room for Mentally Ill Criminals

State Wants to Make Room for Mentally Ill Criminals
By NEWS10’s Juliane Ngan —
January 5, 2009 – 6:29PM

A state board is working to build more residential facilities in Medford for the criminally insane.

The Psychiatric Security Review Board was created by the state in 1978 to supervise people who have been found guilty, except for insanity.

22 PSRB patients live in the city of Medford. Some of them live in a secure residential facilities. Others live in transitional homes throughout Medford neighborhoods. But because these transitional homes house fewer than five patients each the county is not required to notify residents that these mentally ill criminals, live next door.

Individuals who have committed crimes because of their mental illness are transitioning back to society by living in Medford’s neighborhoods. They’re criminals that have committed murders, assaults and rape.

“These are violent people moving into the neighborhood, and when people find out that someone like that will be in their neighborhood and they will be very concerned,” said James Kuntz, a Medford City Councilman.

The state psychiatric security review board says these criminals have completed their treatment programs at the state mental hospital and have been conditionally released back in to the community.

The Jackson County Department of Mental Health Services says eight of these people live in a secure treatment facility called the Hazel Center. 14 others live in homes throughout the community.

“We have transitional homes throughout the community they’ve been established for many years and so I think its pretty widely known,” said Maureen Graham, the division manager of Jackson County Mental Health Services.

The county is responsible for placing these patients throughout the community, with hopes they don’t re-offend.

“If we’re concerned they’re not following through on what their conditions are, we can revoke their conditional releases and have them transferred back to the state mental hospital,” Graham said.

Graham says for now the county hopes to change one transitional home into a facility with a greater level of supervision.

But says it’s up to the state to decide if other transitional homes are built.

Kuntz says it’s an issue the community needs to know about.

“People have the right to know who are in their neighborhoods, who their neighbors are, if these people who are going to be a threat to our families and our children, we have a right to know about it ,” Kuntz said.

The county says there are already four transitional homes in Medford.

They were unable to tell us where these homes are or where any new homes would be.

The county says the rate for PSRB patients re-offending is 2.2 percent.

Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen is scheduled to make a presentation to the city council about this issue Friday in their regularly scheduled meeting.

Criminally insane residence disclosure sought

Criminally insane residence disclosure sought

January 10, 2009

By Paris Achen
Mail Tribune

Medford City Council members Friday said they would support changes in the way the criminally insane are released back into the community.

Twenty-two criminally insane individuals, including a murderer and a child rapist, live in foster and group homes in the city as part of conditional releases from state hospitals, but state law bars police from notifying their neighbors of their presence, said Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.

The state police chiefs’ association and the state sheriffs’ association are considering a list of changes to recommend to the Legislature this session, which starts Monday.

“We have some concerns about the way these individuals are released,” said Schoen, who is a member of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police. “We think some of those concerns can be addressed with legislative solutions.”

Council members said once any legislation is in place, they would consider a resolution declaring their support for it.

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is responsible for determining whether to release a criminally insane individual from a state hospital and where that individual will be subsequently placed based on the hospital’s recommendation and an independent third-party evaluation of the patient.

In the summer, a criminally insane man who committed murder 10 years ago in Josephine County was placed in Medford, as was a man who raped and attempted to sodomize a 3-year-old girl, Schoen said.

The 22 criminally insane individuals reside either in the Hazel Center, a secured group home at Hazel Street off North Pacific Highway, or one of seven other foster and group homes scattered in neighborhoods around the city.

He said the public should be notified when a criminally insane individual is released or placed in the city.

In February, the review board began notifying police agencies of the criminally insane’s release and placement as well as the crime committed. However, police are prohibited from passing that information on to the public, Schoen said.

Schoen said he wants criminally insane sex offenders to undergo the same risk rating system as other sex offenders. Currently, criminally insane sex offenders are not subject to the “predatory” label, which puts into motion a mechanism of public notification of the offender’s presence in a community.

An individual under PSRB sometimes is released with less supervision and restrictions than a convict on probation, Schoen said.

“I’m not trying to create public alarm,” Schoen said. “I also want to do everything I can to inform the public and reduce risks to their safety.”

MaryClaire Buckley, PSRB executive director, said the board has been responsive to concerns about community safety. The notification of law enforcement about conditional releases was prompted by a request from police and sheriff’s agencies, Buckley said.

“The whole issue implicates a lot of competing factors,” she said. “These individuals have a right to privacy and confidentiality, but I’d have to look at specific proposals before I could comment on whether I agree with them or not.”

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

Police look to change public notification laws concerning criminally insane

Police look to change public notification laws concerning criminally insane

By Tove Tupper

January 9, 2009

MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford Police Department is hoping to propose a bill to the state legislature that would require better public notification about the release of criminally insane offenders into the community.

Under current law, when Psychiatric Security Review Board, PSRB, clients, are released back into public, Police are notified, but by law, they are not allowed to tell the community about the release.

The Medford Police Department has asked Medford City Council for support in their efforts to change the law. They say PSRB offenders need to be identified as predatory offenders. They say the public is at risk if they remain unaware of the offenders whereabouts when they are allowed back into the community.

“Our concern is our belief that we should be allowed to notify the public when there’s a public safety interest about these clients belong in their neighborhood. That’s at the heart of this. We feel the public does have a right to know,” says Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.

There are 22 PSRB clients who reside in Medford. Four were accused of murder, and two were accused of violent sexual assault crimes. Several of them live at the Hazel Center, and the rest live in adult foster care facilities.

The Medford Police Department is working in conjunction with the Oregon Chief’s Association and the Oregon Sheriff’s Association to create possible legislative proposals for the future.

There are 22 PSRB clients in Medford.

Criminally insane residence disclosure sought

Criminally insane residence disclosure sought

January 10, 2009

By Paris Achen
Mail Tribune

Medford City Council members Friday said they would support changes in the way the criminally insane are released back into the community.

Twenty-two criminally insane individuals, including a murderer and a child rapist, live in foster and group homes in the city as part of conditional releases from state hospitals, but state law bars police from notifying their neighbors of their presence, said Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.

The state police chiefs’ association and the state sheriffs’ association are considering a list of changes to recommend to the Legislature this session, which starts Monday.

“We have some concerns about the way these individuals are released,” said Schoen, who is a member of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police. “We think some of those concerns can be addressed with legislative solutions.”

Council members said once any legislation is in place, they would consider a resolution declaring their support for it.

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is responsible for determining whether to release a criminally insane individual from a state hospital and where that individual will be subsequently placed based on the hospital’s recommendation and an independent third-party evaluation of the patient.

In the summer, a criminally insane man who committed murder 10 years ago in Josephine County was placed in Medford, as was a man who raped and attempted to sodomize a 3-year-old girl, Schoen said.

The 22 criminally insane individuals reside either in the Hazel Center, a secured group home at Hazel Street off North Pacific Highway, or one of seven other foster and group homes scattered in neighborhoods around the city.

He said the public should be notified when a criminally insane individual is released or placed in the city.

In February, the review board began notifying police agencies of the criminally insane’s release and placement as well as the crime committed. However, police are prohibited from passing that information on to the public, Schoen said.

Schoen said he wants criminally insane sex offenders to undergo the same risk rating system as other sex offenders. Currently, criminally insane sex offenders are not subject to the “predatory” label, which puts into motion a mechanism of public notification of the offender’s presence in a community.

An individual under PSRB sometimes is released with less supervision and restrictions than a convict on probation, Schoen said.

“I’m not trying to create public alarm,” Schoen said. “I also want to do everything I can to inform the public and reduce risks to their safety.”

MaryClaire Buckley, PSRB executive director, said the board has been responsive to concerns about community safety. The notification of law enforcement about conditional releases was prompted by a request from police and sheriff’s agencies, Buckley said.

“The whole issue implicates a lot of competing factors,” she said. “These individuals have a right to privacy and confidentiality, but I’d have to look at specific proposals before I could comment on whether I agree with them or not.”

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

Officials: Group home won’t bring dangerous criminals

Officials: Group home won’t bring dangerous criminals
By BENNETT HALL
Gazette-Times reporter

A mental health group home planned for Corvallis will not become a dumping ground for dangerous criminals, officials involved in the project told local residents at a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

“There’s a big difference between developing a secure residential home -. and what we’re developing, which is a nonsecure home,” said Mitch Anderson, administrator of the Benton County Health Department.

More than 40 people attended the public meeting at Grace Lutheran Church, which was moderated by state Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis.

The county is working with Shangri-La Corp., a Salem-based nonprofit, to acquire property for the residential treatment facility.

Anderson said the group home would be used primarily as transitional housing for Benton County residents returning to the community after a civil commitment to the Oregon State Hospital or other mental health institution.

But, as he has done before, Anderson refused to rule out the possibility that the home could be used to house individuals who had been committed through the criminal courts and were under the jurisdiction of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board.

The PSRB, Anderson said, does a good job of evaluating patients before release to ensure they’re ready to be discharged, and it monitors them closely afterwards.

“Community safety is a piece of that,” he said.

Jan Kral, Shangri-La’s executive director, said the facility would be staffed around the clock with highly trained personnel.

“I know what you’re asking is in the hearts of a lot of people,” she said in response to a question about patients under PSRB jurisdiction. “Generally speaking, it’s not going to be an exodus of those sorts of people.”

Shangri-La operates a nonsecure group home for civilly committed mental patients in Albany. It was initially intended to be a locked facility for PSRB patients, but that plan was scrapped in the face of fierce community opposition.

Now that the facility has been open for a while, Kral said, it has generally cordial relations with neighbors.

“They saw that the promises we made, we kept,” she said.

Kral repeated an earlier promise to have additional discussions with neighbors after Shangri-La completes the purchase of a house in Corvallis.

“Once we close on a home, we send out a notice to everyone in the area,” she said. “We host a meeting.”

That notice could go out in the next month or so. Kral said after the meeting that Shangri-La expects to close on a house for the Corvallis facility in three to four weeks.

Bennett Hall can be reached at 758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net.