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CA: Coalinga State Hospital locked down in sex offender dispute


A California state psychiatric hospital, housing mostly sexually violent predators, has been locked down and visits canceled after a weekend protest over a crackdown on devices, like flash drives, that officials say are often used to smuggle child pornography.

The patients at Coalinga State Hospital were protesting new restrictions on electronic devices, Department of State Hospitals spokesman Ralph Montano said Tuesday, but no injuries were reported.

Department officials have cited lawsuit testimony asserting that there is a “porn epidemic” at Coalinga to justify the crackdown.

At least 200 Coalinga patients have been involved in the possession or transmission of child pornography and there are typically two or three new child pornography cases reported each month which require investigation, officials said. Patients also copy and sell or exchange legal movies and music for profit, the department said.

The facility in Fresno County can hold nearly 1,300 patients, nearly three-quarters of whom are court-designated sexually violent predators. Most of the remaining patients are being treated for mental illness after completing prison sentences.

A notice on the hospital’s website said the visitor center was closed Sunday due to the lockdown until further notice.

“One thing is of concern is that the phones have been shut down and the detainees there have been unable to confer with counsel,” said Los Angeles-based attorney Ezra Landes, who has represented Coalinga patients in a class-action lawsuit alleging poor conditions. “Phones have been confiscated.”

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  1. R M

    “At least 200 Coalinga patients have been involved in the possession or transmission of child pornography and there are typically two or three new child pornography cases reported each month which require investigation, officials said.”
    Let’s see, if 200 have been involved in the possession or transmission of child pornography and 3 cases reported/investigated a month… 200/3 = 67 months. These things have been allegedly happening for over 5 YEARS and just now, a few days after the vote, it becomes an EMERGENCY??? Something smells fishy.

    • CR

      If they are possessing or distributing child pornography, wouldn’t that qualify as a new offense for which they would be indicted, tried, and sentenced?

      • David Kennerly, Barely Allowed Out-Of-Doors

        Yes and they’re being arrested for it, sent to county jail and sentenced to prison. But the state does not have to get a search warrant to search them or their property at CSH. They are not prisoners there, they are “patients” civilly committed and being held “in the least restrictive means possible.”

    • HS

      Actually they said it had been happening for since 2008. And, if you read it carefully, they did NOT say 200 people were busted with child porn, they said there had been 200 bust. Using a public records act request, I found out that there have only been 29 arrests with 17 convictions for possession of child porn at Coalinga State Hospital since it opened in 2005. Then they say that there were more than 300 busts for contraband in 2017 alone. That’s not hard to believe when paper clips, gum, or a roll of tape are all considered contraband.

  2. AC

    Thank you HS, you are correct, they do not tell the truth ever. If they really counted all the contraband they take (like foil, paper clips, broken tweezers, broken headphones, headphones that are taped together so that they can last longer, glue) and the list can go on and on. they are very petty. Most if not all of the staff that work there are not able to work anywhere else, they have run their course and can’t get hired anywhere else. Doctors can only work there or it’s over for them as they have had to many problems in their careers already, same goes for most of the other staff there. Time has come for a complete change in that place.

    • Christie

      Until recently, even pencils with erasers weren’t allowed, they had to get the eraserless ‘golf pencils’….. because of the metal holding the eraser in place. And they tear off that little metal clasp on 8×10 envelopes that come in the mail, because it’s… somehow… contraband too.

      Yet they allow solid metal canes, and many other things that could easily be used as weapons.

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