A protest will be held at noon, March 2, by the "Friends and Family of California Civil Detainees" (FFCCD) as well as the group "Reform of Sex Offender Laws" (RSOL) in front of Coalinga State Hospital (CSH). The $388 million California Department of Mental Health’s CSH is widely viewed as a massively failed experiment with little hope of fulfilling its mandate to California taxpayers,
The nation’s largest facility for housing sex offenders after their prison terms are completed, CSH is derided by its many critics, including public policy experts, victim’s groups and its own staff and patients, as an ill-conceived experiment that squanders California’s limited fiscal resources at a time when the State faces a $14 billion shortfall. CSH has been charged with failing to: implement changes ordered by a 2004 U.S. Justice Department Consent Decree; provide effective sex offender treatment; comply with state and federal laws.
FFCCD and RSOL, in staging a protest outside of CSH, hope to bring attention to the facility’s many failings and to its record of flagrant human rights violations and inability to improve public safety. Demonstration organizers say that it is just the beginning of a campaign to bring critical awareness to the disastrous policies of California’s Department of Mental Health as well as to state laws and ballot initiatives that appeal on an emotional level to voters but which make bad public policy.
Mike St. Martin, a Civil Detainee held in CSH and Detainee Spokesman, stated: "CSH is plagued by staff shortages, patient and staff unrest, and rampant abuse and neglect. The death of Detainee Frank Valadao in November has finally brought attention to a medical system that is a ticking time bomb ready to go off, with irresponsible delays, bad treatment, misdiagnoses, poor training and medical care grossly deficient for an aging population."
Valadao died after he collapsed while playing basketball in CSH. Another patient attempted to revive him while he lay unconscious on the floor, but medical staff ordered him to discontinue his efforts while failing themselves to attempt resuscitation. Detainees allege staff did not provide Valadao with the timely medical assistance that might have saved his life.
St. Martin went on to say: "When Tom Voss (CSH Executive Director at the time of its dedication, August 24, 2005) said in his speech at the opening ceremony, ‘At least 90 percent of the men who come here will probably die here,’ he inadvertently let slip the true objective of the Department of Mental Health, at dramatic variance with its stated goals of effective treatment and rehabilitation. To this day, the Department continues to cover-up its chaotic system of wanton medical and psychological neglect, misdiagnoses and mistreatment—itself a ‘tangle of pathologies’ with a blanket of lies for public and legislative consumption.
"Tom Voss was probably just being honest. It looks as though we will be here for the rest of our lives. The reality of CSH is this: We are being held for crimes that we may commit in the future by people who are committing crimes in the present. Neither disingenuous mission statements nor clever public relations can conceal this fact."