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Governor 'appalled' about latest report on Rawson-Neal busing

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Updated: 12/16/2013 4:48 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com & Sacramento Bee) -- Gov. Brian Sandoval has said that he is "appalled" by the latest report from the Sacramento Bee about former Rawson-Neal mental patients who were bused out of state later committing crimes -- including murder and bombings -- across the country.

The newspaper used Greyhound bus receipts to track more than 1,000 people who were given bus tickets out of Nevada between July 2008 and April of this year.

Among other findings, the story posted on the newspaper's website today included patients saying they never received treatment while at Rawson-Neal and that perhaps 50 of them were facing charges in Nevada when the hospital bused them out of state.

The crimes listed in the report include:

-- Joseph Ceretti fatally stabbed a man in Iowa.

-- William "Billy" Busche set off explosions in a grocery store and a doughnut shop in Tennessee.

-- Christopher Dustrude, a convicted child molester, who was sent on a bus to San Diego even as he faced criminal charges in Las Vegas for failing to register as a sex offender. He became the subject of a citywide manhunt.

There are other examples in the Bee's story about former Rawson-Neal patients who got into serious criminal behavior.

The Bee's analysis also found more than 50 matches between the names of mental patients bused out of the state and suspects facing criminal charges in Las Vegas. Interviews with patients or family members confirmed that in some cases the hospital effectively helped suspects skip town.

Mary-Sarah Skinner, the governor's spokeswoman, gave News 3 a statement Sunday afternoon.

"Governor Sandoval is appalled by this new information and is disturbed by these allegations. An investigation is underway, and those responsible will be held accountable. This type of conduct is indefensible. The governor has established a council of legislators, law enforcement, and mental health professionals to further identify and address mental health needs in the state," the statement read.

In recent months the governor has ordered reviews of the state's mental health care system and has successfully pushed for additional funding through the Legislature for more beds and services for mental patients.

State officials have also said they will only bus patients out of state with a chaperone.

But the administration has also defended the busing practices as safe and humane.

The Nevada State Democratic Party released a statement in response to today’s Sacramento Bee report about the patient dumping scandal:

“Today’s report that the Sandoval administration’s practice of dumping mental health patients out-of-state has not only jeopardized criminal investigations in Nevada, but also essentially enabled violent crimes to happen in other states is deeply disturbing.  It is long past time for Governor Sandoval to finally hold people accountable for this heinous scandal. Unfortunately, considering that Brian Sandoval’s only proposals for mental healthcare are devastating budget cuts and Greyhound bus tickets, all we can expect from the Governor is rhetoric, not action.”


It has been nine months since The Bee first reported Rawson-Neal’s unusual busing program, which sent about 1,500 mental patients to cities across the lower 48 states between July 2008 and April of this year. Patients typically were dispatched by taxi to a Las Vegas Greyhound station and put on buses, alone and sometimes heavily medicated, for journeys that in many cases spanned multiple states and several days.

Nevada health authorities revised the protocols in April, saying they no longer would bus patients across state lines without chaperones. But state officials have generally defended the decades-old program, contending the vast majority of patients were bused to their “home communities” and only after Rawson-Neal staff had contacted family at the destination and made arrangements for treatment and care.

Former patients and their families have told a different story, asserting that the hospital made no such arrangements, and in some cases shipped former patients off to cities where they had tenuous ties, or none at all. Many of those interviewed ended up on the streets, at public hospitals or in shelters, which essentially shifted the burden of their care from Nevada to their destination cities.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/15/5999954/crime-followed-as-inmates-were.html#storylink=cpy



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