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December 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Maurice Clemmons and mental illness

Posted by Letters Editor

State mental-health system needs evaluation

One of the issues the tragic death of four police officers should bring to the forefront is the state of our mental-health services [“Clemmons’ diagnosis: stress,” News, Dec. 1].

At one time Washington had an excellent mental-health system. People could be referred for admission to mental-health facilities without fear that the clearly disturbed, such as Maurice Clemmons, would be released until they could be safely returned to home and community.

It was an alliance of conservatives, who wanted to save money, and the all-or-nothing civil libertarians who were successful in eliminating these services.

I hope the blame game lets up, and some consideration is given to how our institutions can be reconfigured to provide appropriate retention and treatment for the mentally ill. As it is now, all we have are correctional institutions and a land mine of laws that must be considered before people can be detained or treated. This approach is neither safe nor humane.

— Marilyn Bentz, Kirkland

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