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mental hospital escape

A mental hospital escape or break is the act of a patient leaving the mental hospital through unofficial or illegal ways. Normally, when this occurs, an effort is made on the part of authorities to recapture them and return them to their original detainers.

Escaping from a mental hospital is also a criminal offense in many places, and it is likely to result in additional incarceration, as well as the patient being placed under increased security.

The terms jailbreak and prison break are not used in law. For example, in New York State Article 205 of the Penal Law refers to: "Escape And Other Offenses Relating To Custody". The code differentiates escape from a "Detention Facility" from the lesser escape from custody. Absconding (not voluntarily returning from being temporarily released), resisting arrest, hindering prosecution (assisting an escapee) and contraband related offenses are also covered in the same section of law. Severity depends on the nature of patient's inclusion whether it be court ordered or voluntary.

A recent  escape from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, Washington occurred on September 17, 2009. Hospital employees took a group of 31 forensic ward patients on a supervised field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair. One of these patients, 47-year-old Phillip A. Paul of Goldendale, Washington, wandered away from the group and could not be located by Hospital staff. The escape led to widespread distress because of Paul's criminal past- a paranoid schizophrenic, Paul was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the brutal 1987 murder of a Sunnyside, Washington woman (�Patient�). Yet, supervisors on the field trip waited two hours before alerting authorities of Paul's escape. During an extensive search of the fairgrounds immediately following the notification of the escape deputies concluded Paul had already left the premises. While the fairgrounds were not shut down during the search, upon hearing of the escape fairgoers were angered by the decision to bring a criminally insane patient to such a populated community event. One of those fairgoers, Jennifer Craig, told the Spokesman Review at the time, �I think it's wrong- it's totally wrong. You're putting too many kids and old disabled people like me at risk� (�Criminally Insane�).

Paul was found and taken back into custody just outside of Goldendale three days after escaping the fair. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Paul conned a friend into giving him a ride from Spokane to Goldendale. Three Spokane deputies made the arrest after Paul tried to hitch a ride in their undercover and unmarked van. At the time of his arrest, Paul was reportedly carrying a backpack with food, clothing and personal items as well as a guitar, sleeping bag and hand scythe (�Friend�).