The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Jury to decide fate of pedophile held at mental health facility

Having read the article below, I am left with several concerns.  The most significant being that our court system is being used to determine efficacy of mental health treatment.  Unfortunately, the general population must operate under a false set of assumptions:  mental illness is always curable, treatment for mental illness cures the person.

As much as I wish these assumptions to be true, they are not.  Mental illness, like physical illness comes in many guises and like physical illness sometimes can be “cured” but sometimes must just be managed.  Diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, strokes, cancer–these are physical illnesses that are managed and have recurrences.  Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, pedophilia, antisocial personality disorder–these are mental illnesses that are managed and have frequent recurrences.

The question being that if someone cannot be cured and is prone to recurrences in which that person can become a danger to themselves and to others, what is the course of treatment that protects the general population while not violating the personal rights of the person?  This is the fine line that mental health professionals walk daily.

No one wants or likes to keep anyone “locked up” unnecessarily.  But when a person who is mentally ill acts out upon the urges, or compulsions, or delusions in their minds how do you protect the innocent bystanders?  I really would love to hear other people’s ideas on this topic as I am always interested in learning new and better ways to deal with the mentally ill that encompasses compassion and care for everyone.

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 5, 2010

Shawn Schulpius, 36, has spent his entire adult life in state-financed treatment for his pedophilia. Taxpayers continue to pay more than $100,000 a year for his care, but state psychologists say their work isn’t done.

Schulpius’ lawyer, however, contends that the 13 years of therapy and supervision has taught Schulpius to recognize, divert and suppress his sexual attraction to children and that he deserves discharge from state custody.

A Milwaukee County jury will decide Wednesday whether he remains much more likely than not to commit sex crimes against children, whether he’ll return to Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center or return home.

By the time he was convicted of molesting a 4-year-old boy in 1991, Schulpius had sexually assaulted at least three other children, starting when he was 14, and perhaps as many as nine, prosecutors say. As his prison sentence was about to end in 1995, the state had Schulpius committed under Chapter 980. The 1994 law allows inmates deemed sexually violent to be held for mental health treatment after they complete prison terms.

Schulpius has been seeking release for years, and his case threatened the constitutional underpinning of Chapter 980 when it got all the way to the state Supreme Court in 2005.

Chapter 980 patients can petition for supervised release back into the community, and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John Franke twice granted that request for Schulpius, in 1997 and 1999. But he remained at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston because the state could not find appropriate placement in Milwaukee County.

The Supreme Court found that violated Schulpius’ right to due process, but also ruled that Franke effectively overruled his earlier findings when in 2000 he decided Schulpius was no longer eligible for supervised release.

This time, Schulpius seeks complete discharge from his Chapter 980 commitment. At his trial, state psychologists testified that he has pedophilia, and that while he has made progress, he still shows arousal to images of children and has been inconsistent about chronicling all the offenses he committed as a teenager.

Luis Rosell, an Iowa psychologist who works with sex offenders in several states, testified that he reviewed Schulpius’ records and interviewed him twice. In his opinion, he said, Schulpius is less likely than not to reoffend.

Rosell questioned why, if the program at Sand Ridge is the model the state claims, the staff has never recommended anyone be released. Judges or juries have made those determinations for 60 patients discharged since Sand Ridge opened in 2001.

Where to place Chapter 980 patients such as Schulpius and Billy Lee Morford became a hot-button issue in 2003, when Morford was first quietly moved into a home on the northwest side of Milwaukee. Protests led to a search for alternative sites, each of which encountered its own resistance from neighbors. There was talk of making the state build a group facility somewhere in the county for sex offenders released under Chapter 980. In Schulpius’ cases, the Supreme Court noted that lack of placement options could undermine the constitutionality of the law.

Morford ultimately satisfied his conditions of supervised release and was granted full termination in 2006. He is still listed on the state’s sex offender registry, which includes offenders who were not deemed sexually violent and held under Chapter 980.

Today, there are 317 patients at Sand Ridge being held under Chapter 980, and prosecutors have sought to have 59 more people sent there, according to Stephanie Marquis, media relations manager for the state Department of Health Services.

Since 1994, 60 patients have won discharge from Chapter 980 commitment, and 18 are under community supervision statewide, Marquis said. None of those under community supervision resides in Milwaukee County.

Among the 18 states that allow post-prison civil commitment, Wisconsin places the most in community supervision, according to the state.

You can view the original article here

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January 11, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , , ,


  1. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Comment by Posicionamiento Web | February 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi, do you have a facebook fan page for your blog?*;;;*

    Comment by Audio Switch | March 21, 2011 | Reply

    • I don’t have a Fan page because, frankly, I never thought about it before. Thanks for the idea. Now to ponder on the topic and figure out if that’s something I want to do. Thanks for commenting.

      Comment by Shirley | March 21, 2011 | Reply

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