Very, very good post. You made some great points.Quote:
[soapbox mode on]
The closure on mental health facilities is happening all over the country. I retired from the state mental health agency in Alabama in 2010. Since I retired, 2 (of 5) mental illness facilities have closed. These 2 served about 600 residents. Within the next 12 months, a third will downsize from about 400 residents to about 200. Within the past 10 years, 2 other facilities have closed serving about 250 residents including the only facility for youth. Also within the past 10 years, all the centers for residents with mental retardation have closed!
These closures are because of two forces that feed off each other. First, there is a move to put residents in the community rather than to isolate them in large facilities. This is a result of pressure by parents and advocates. Second, these facilities need huge capital outlays to maintain and in our case, it was easier to accede to the forces that seek closure than to try to get money to repair them. For example, one of our facilities needed almost 10 million in repairs to the mechanical and electrical systems. Making these repairs would have saved almost $20 million over 20 years but somebody felt it was less expensive just to close the facility. (I had a project worked out that would have paid for the repairs out of the utility savings the repairs would generate.)
Closure of both mental retardation and mental illness facilities is also a hot button within the Federal Ct system. Thus, we closed the mental retardation beds to suit the advocates but there aren't sufficient beds in the community to accept all the people who need them. These folks are living at home, many of them in terrible conditions, program-wise, as opposed living to the mental retardation centers.
What I did was manage the land assets of the agency. We had about 15,000 acres of land all over the state. I worked to keep the land as an income stream that was used for major repairs .... roofs, boilers, elevators, etc. I used to claim to be the only profit center in the entire agency as we had income of over $1 million a year from our land....farm leases, commercial leases, hunting leases, oil-gas drilling rights and leases, etc. Since my retirement, the Dept has sold hundreds of acres of land and used the money for operating expenses. So, where we had an assured income for repairs, now the source of the income is gone and the money was spent in one budget cycle.
In short, the mental health system in this country just can't accommodate folks like the Sandy Hook shooter because the system has deteriorated so badly that it just can't be fixed without huge sums of money that just aren't available. The state facilities have deteriorated so badly because of legislative neglect that they're cheaper to close that to operate. Instead, the money is going to prisons...and so are large numbers of the people the mental health system used to serve.
[soapbox mode off]