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California

CA: Child porn ‘epidemic’ triggers Coalinga hospital lockdown, patients file lawsuit

Two patients at Coalinga State Hospital, which houses nearly 1,000 sexually violent predators, have filed a federal lawsuit against the hospital’s executive director and 10 other staff members for allegedly violating their civil rights during a recent crackdown on portable electronic devices that hospital officials say was prompted by a “child porn epidemic.”

Sacramento civil rights attorney Janice Bellucci filed the lawsuit on behalf of two patients, Michael Saint-Martin and an anonymous claimant, in federal court Tuesday night. It asks the court to immediately halt a newly implemented hospital policy that commanded all of the nearly 1,300 patients to turn over any personal electronic devices with storage space or internet access – including flash drives, MP3 players, video game consoles, computers. Full Article and Complaint

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  1. Jack

    Give em hell Janice!

  2. Q

    I sure seems like they are trying to deny these prisoners their rights, and I believe this to be true. They (prisoners) live in Coalinga weather the authorities wan’t to admit it or not. They are living there against their will, but I don’t think anyone can deny that they do in fact live in Coalinga. If their (authorities) claims are true they have the worst timing since the foundations of this world; and one must ask why they waited so long to force inmates to give up their communication devices if their claims of an ongoing problem, as indicated by the DA filing charges are true. Some of the accusations against some of the inmates may be true, and if so indicate to me that they are not trying to rehabilitate these state victims. And if they are trying to rehabilitate their victims whatever they are doing isn’t working if some of them are looking at child porn. The authorities may have opened a Pandora’s box for themselves. And why sanction the prisoners that aren’t violating any laws or rules?

  3. The Static-99R Is A Scam

    Thank you for engaging in these unpopular battles Janice. Good luck and we are all rooting for you and your clients!!

  4. cool CA RC

    Let’s see how many of those charges will be dropped after those lawsuits.

    Steve Wright, an assistant Fresno County district attorney, said his office has filed child pornography charges against 18 Coalinga patients since September 2016.

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/crime/article196443479.html#storylink=cpy

    • Janice Bellucci

      According to a letter dated Jan. 12, 2018, from the Legal Services Division of the Department of State Hospitals, there have been a total of only 29 people charged with possession of CP and only 17 people convicted of that offense since the hospital opened in September 2005. Also according to that letter, the total number of patients at the hospital since it opened is 2,387. Therefore, the percentage of people convicted of possessing CP during that time is 7/100ths of a percent. It is clear to see that there is not a CP “epidemic” at Coalinga State Hospital.

      • cool CA RC

        Thank you, Janice for clarifying that! I hope you can use this information in court.

      • Michael E

        Janice, what I do not understand is why the hospital itself took no steps to prevent cp on any computers that are there in the first place… since the patients are under their care, it should be their responsibility to take steps to ensure that cp does not end up on any devices. I was also under the impression that patients do not have direct access to the Web. Is that part of the news media’s story false? After reading the story on the election loss and the city’s reaction, it makes sense that this is suddenly happening now. Dirty politicians will always be dirty… you can’t put lipstick on a pig and call it a butterfly…

        • Tim Moore

          How does the cp get on the hosprisoners’ computers? Good question. How do drugs get into prisons…
          A maybe unrelated question is how much are these staff paid?

        • David Kennerly, Me Think Thou Doth Protest Too Much

          Staff. There are staff at CSH who smuggle in various things, whether illegal or simply against CSH rules, for money.

        • Tim Moore

          That is why I was asking how much staff are paid, the rank and file not the therapists.

        • David Kennerly, Me Think Thou Doth Protest Too Much

          Michael, these “Hosprisoners” are not to be punished and to be held “in the least restrictive manner possible.” Remember, these guys have already been punished in prison but were never let out on to parole (most have long ago discharged their time on parole, too). As such, the “Hospital’s” authority to monitor every aspect of their lives cannot constitutionally exist. So, the level of control and invasiveness necessary to ensure that every Hosprisoner’s property does not include illegal materials is proscribed by what is said to be their rights. They’re not prisoners, as such. Imagine if we, as private citizens not on probation or parole, were subjected to random searches of our homes without probable cause. Saying that they are patients under their care does not mean that the “patients” don’t have privacy rights. That’s if you actually believe that the Hospital “cares” for its “patients” in any recognizably medical way; they certainly do not. It should be noted that there is really no medically-trained people on staff there anymore and treatment for demonstrated health crisis has gone completely unanswered on many occasions with some patients having died for lack of receiving CPR or the Heimlich maneuver on a number of occasions. One staffer said while a man was dying: “I will not put my lips on that man’s lips.”

      • Q

        “epidemic” They choose their words for effect.

      • The Static 99R Is A Scam

        Thanks for the statistics, Janice. Put in that context, it’s clear to see that the “hospital” administrators at Coalinga are liars. This is indeed, perhaps, retaliation for the resident “patient”/voters in Coalinga voting against the one-cent sales tax that failed by just 37 votes.

      • Dustin

        And what do you want to bet if CP was found on any of those computers/devices, it was put there by staff?

        • C

          They might have a very loose definition of CP to fit their purposes. What they call CP the rest of us might call a family frolicking about in a water park ad.

  5. J

    This is a terrible injustice and I can only imagine the nightmare. I’m punished every day while just trying to live a normal life because of the Registry. These people aren’t even allowed to live a normal life and yet are still being punished for trying to exercise what looks to me as the one way to cope with that HELL HOLE, by being politically active. This is a wonderful way to integrate back into the community and what could be much more better? Politics can be fun and exciting and as we all know, bullshit. I think it was super what these individuals did prior to the election. They made the best of their time with something that really matters. Shouldn’t this be considered a sign of rehabilitation? Yes it should. This was Very Healthy Positive Energy and Behavior put forth by these Individuals. Kudos men and not only kudos but you helped win the Vote. Now that is what I call behavior and investments in life that should fast track you out of there and not get you ( An Emergency Confiscation

  6. Patsy

    Prisoner’s right, at least to the general public, is an oxymoron. And, even more so if the word “sex” is in the prisoner’s crime. I don’t think in my lifetime I am going to see common sense especially for those arrested on child porn charges. I think the public and the lawmakers feel that by making them the worst of the worst, they are preventing future actual crimes from happening. What’s that song…keep waiting on the world to change.

  7. irish

    Coalinga State Hospital – I keep noting folks referring to the residents there as “prisoners”. Keep in mind though that all the sex offenders housed there have completed their prison terms and most have discharged from parole; many are registered voters too. Most have been there a decarde or more and the average age is 45 – 50 years. Some are in their 80s, in wheelchairs and some bedridden.
    Because they are not criminals they are not sentenced, but rather (warehoused) there under what is called civil detention at DSH-Coalinga by judicial order, for evaluation, assessment and treatment. While this detention is involuntary, they are still expected to pay the full costs of their detention during the months or years there (at an average of $200,000.00 per year). Thus any patient having more than $500 to his name can have it levied to pay his room and board. I have heard of a couple of elderly gentlemen who had the state take their house, motorhome and other moveable property. One resident there has been locked up in Coalinga for 16 years (after serving a 16 year term for his original conviction), 33 years continuous since 1985. No, he did not kill his victim, thanks be to God. But he can tell you about 2 men he did time with in Soledad and Old Folsom prisons who’ve served 28 and 29 yrs for killing somebody, and now they are free and writing him letters wanting to know “who did you kill, bro? You’ve been locked up longer than us. Be honest!”
    When he writes to try to explain this insane SVP law, they (and few others) can believe that California (and quite a few other states) can lock people up in psychiatric hospitals under the “indeterminate” statute (read: until they die), for what the state claims they MAY do in the future. Don’t worry, taxpayers, they have trustworthy doctor evaluators (sometimes knows as “whores of the court”) who are able to look into their psychiatric Bible (DSM-5) and their crystal ball and tell whether a person will commit another sex crime and also whether or not he suffers from a mental disorder that will justify keeping him locked up indefinitely. Many of the men refer to themselves as “cash cows” for these evaluators, most of whom make on average of $250,000.00 a year, and some have cashed in at over $1 million per year. I kid you not.
    But, wait, there’s more: At the original criminal trials of every one of these nearly 1,000 patients they were back then all determined to have no mental disorders, they were deemed common criminals and sentenced to prison. Hold on…here it comes: Then within 45 days of their parole they were every one taken to see the wizard evaluators who looked into their “Bibles” and crystal balls and determined…what? They have a mental disorder now, they are extremely dangerous, and cannot be released to the community. Nobody has ever been able to answer the ELEPHANT question in the room: When the hell did that mental disorder appear? Heard enough? It gets even better: Now with the recent arrests for child porn at Coalinga, those patients under treatment for their mental disorders that they didn’t have when they committed their original offenses, but now do, can’t be criminally responsible can they? Of course not. What’s a determined D.A. to do? They have some kind of mysterious, magiK wand I can only suppose, that allows them to wave it around in the criminal courtroom, and Shazzam, that mental disorder just vanishes like it was legal fiction all along. Think the state is done with this folks. No way! What’d ya think the D.A.’s do when those prison terms are done????????????????????? Yep, you got it, are you seeing million dollar wizards and their crystal balls again? You got it. That mental disorder that never was there when they committed their original crime that sent them to prison, but showed up when it came time for them to parole, and disappeared when they committed a crime in the hospital that sent them back to prison a second time, is now legal fiction still once again. Who knew that the state of california had the power to turn mental disorders on and off like ethereal light switches? NOW YOU KNOW. Now, as to the turmoil at Coalinga where the ageing men there, who are mostly all walking dead men, …I ask: Is it any wonder there’s no easy peace at all in that cesspit of inequity and injustice?>

    • kind of living

      @ Irish ,,,,, ,, that was so well put , it even made me cry , even with all the anger I felt at the same time , Thank You for speaking the truth , this is a truth we all should understand , this could be any of us

    • David Kennerly, Me Think Thou Doth Protest Too Much

      Well, it’s difficult, Irish. Detainees/Hosprisoners/Patients et al are treated like prisoners, as you know. Their legal status stipulates that they are not to be treated like prisoners but, of course, they are treated like prisoners. So which term to use, the one that describes what they really are, the one that the state claims they are or what those so-afflicted call themselves to draw attention to the disparity between the official and the actual state of custody/conditions of confinement? I would go with the third although people not in the know will be unlikely to know what you’re talking about. Also, there seems to be several in current parlance. Is there a preferred term among patients/detainees/prisoners/Hosprisoners? How about “Gu-lodger”, a rather tortured neologism derived from “gulag” and “lodger?” No? Well, I tried 🙂 I kind of like it although it would require lots of “splainin'” to do!

      • Irish

        Yep, David, I understand what you mean, but I think most of those inside DSH-Coalinga and those active with DACE (Detainee-Americans for Civic Equality) seem to get upset when they are referred to as prisoners. Prisoners get little (scratch that) they get NO sympathy from the public who often hear on the news that they’ve been caught with phones, etc. In addition, if we don’t start using the proper term “civil detainees” how can the public be educated and learn that there are in fact such people being held in mental hospitals till they die in modern America?
        Ask folks at random what a civil detainee is, and 90 percent can’t tell you. Ask them if they know whether people can be locked up in maximum security asylums “indefinitely” not for crimes they committed, but for what the state believes they may do in the future, and I’ll bet you 99 percent would say, “No way!” So, clearly the public need to see hat these men are citizens with the rights of every other citizen, except that they can’t go home at the end of the day as the staff do. That they are locked up, some for decades, for a mere 3 or 4 hours of therapy a week–which is actually the equivalent of outpatient treatment!
        Yet, you are also right that other terms have been coined to describe them such as the one you mention: “hosprisoners”, and that the Coalinga State Hospital house of horrors is often called by them the “hosprison”. On paper they are indeed civilians, but this is just to make it pass constitutional muster, when in all actuality they are treated as bad or worse than prisoners, and certainly not under the “least restrictive conditions” as the law requires. As we all can see, this is mere legal fiction.
        By the way you should know, it is unfortunate that Janice’s heroic attempt to obtain a TRO (temporary restraining order) on Friday 1/26/18 in the Federal Eastern District Court to halt the hospital staff and police from forcibly confiscating the civil detainees’ electronic property and memory devices was not successful. While this is indeed another serious blow to the integrity of our American Constitution, and leaves open the door to even greater abuses to be rained down upon the men at Coalinga in the days and weeks to come, we and they remain hopeful that at some juncture, some time, some how, some way, justice will at last prevail.

        • David Kennerly's Spectral Evidence

          Irish, I definitely agree that Civil Detainee is the preferred, and most accurate, term even if I do have a pride of authorship in “Gulodgers” 🙂 Your other points are also right on the money. I had not heard that the injunction had been refused. That is very bad as it means that the so-called “Hospital” can begin taking Detainees’ property with immediate effect which means that they will neither be compensated for property which they bought and paid for nor ever see it again. It’s hard to imagine that the courts will later say that the Department will have to compensate them for these losses, isn’t it? I won’t be compensated for the computer or the other items legally purchased for a Detainee and received at CSH when they were approved items, either.

  8. G4Change

    Sounds like what they really have is a BS epidemic at Coalinga State Hospital!

  9. AC

    Most if not all of the contraband brought into the hospital is done by staff, yet you never hear about in the news. That’s because they don’t want the public knowing this, as it would be a black-eye to the hospital!!! The plain truth is this, they are getting over $200,00.00 per person a year times at least 1250 patients, that comes to over $250 million a year. Yet, there is very few who, if possible, make it out alive, this is because they do not have a viable program that works! Why have one that works and lets people out when you can have one that doesn’t and makes them millions a year for doing nothing. The media has the public believing that they have Cell Phones and Internet, when actually it is the opposite, they have none of that, so then, how does the contraband get IN!!! The answer is very clear, STAFF. Yes, STAFF, and there has been hundreds of staff walked out of there for introducing contraband, how many of these have you heard in the news? One, maybe two. Thanks to Janice and her team for sticking up for the less fortunate and down trodden. What the public needs to know is what is really going on in there.

    • Christie

      Last I heard, cell phones hadn’t been smuggled into CSH for quite a while. But when they had been, new phones were impossible to get, and even old– and I mean 4-5yr old– used phones were costing $600+ to get smuggled in…. and were, despite that cost and despite the very large risk of losing them soon after.

      Drugs too, and tobacco, I’ve been told. But for phones, the ‘hosprisoners’ there are for the most part simply trying to connect with the modern world, stay in touch. These days you pretty much can’t LIVE without computers, internet, and cell phones…. how are they supposed to learn how to live in society if they can’t access the things normally IN everyday society and learn how to use them?

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