In a letter sent to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Wednesday, Senator Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, calls on the department for a moratorium on its practice of placing violent individuals from Western State Hospital (WSH) and the Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island in adult family homes after a former WSH patient killed a fellow resident in Lakewood.
In the letter, the 28th Legislative District lawmaker urges the moratorium and requests that DSHS provide information on the history of the suspect, circumstances that led to the decision to place the suspect in an adult family home, who was informed of the suspect’s apparent violent past, and other information.
This is not the first time O’Ban has raised questions of community safety after DSHS placed violent offenders in adult family homes. In the last few months, O’Ban has been advocating for a ban on the placement of violent offenders in adult family homes in Lakewood and was successful in helping halt the release of accused murderer Lawrence David Butterfield from WSH in 2017.
“This violent tragedy was entirely predictable,” said O’Ban. “DSHS should have heeded our calls to end placing individuals with violent histories in adult family homes, which were never intended for such individuals and lack security and basic protections for other residents of the facility and their neighbors. DSHS should have been establishing appropriate, secure facilities for violent individuals released from its care. DSHS needs to be transparent about this problem so that lawmakers can address this issue in the upcoming legislative session.”