The story of one mentally ill Oregonian living in Portland represents a larger problem the state is facing in effectively dealing with this issue. A Willamette Week article written by Lucas Manfield on March 8, details the story of Joshua McCurry, a 38-year-old man whose family moved to Portland when he was 5 years old.
The article explains his mental illness struggles began when he was 19 years old and was sent to a psychiatric ward after threatening his family. Since this time nearly 20 years ago, Joshua has been in and out of mental health facilities, hospitals, and jails after repeatedly acting out in disturbing and violent ways for attention and/or help.
These calls for attention and/or help include jumping off an overpass onto Interstate 405, attacking nurses and security guards at a hospital, punching a pregnant mother in the face outside of Pioneer Place mall causing her to need stitches, punching a security guard who was peacefully eating lunch near a bus stop downtown, and punching a police officer in the eye.
In addition to all the violence this one mentally ill Oregonian has displayed over the years toward innocent Oregonian residents, he is also unwilling to voluntarily take his antipsychotic medication. The problem is his latest stay at the Oregon State Hospital has expired due to the new early release policy OSH has in order to open up beds for the overflowing demand they are under (he could only stay a maximum of one year); the hospital is so overwhelmed it is basically only accepting patients charged with or convicted of a crime and deemed dangerous enough to warrant long-term care.
This new early release policy now leaves Joshua sitting in the Multnomah County Jail for a short time until he is likely released on probation to go back into the community after his next court date later this month.
The article explains since Joshua was diagnosed as a teenager with schizophrenia, he has been hospitalized a dozen times. The prosecutor involved says he acts out with violence in order to go back to OSH. Joshua is one of 40 mentally ill patients OSH is releasing due to their new early release policy, according to the article.
Oregonians should be alarmed at stories like this which represent a larger problem the state has. Joshua is one of many mentally ill adults in our communities that aren’t being dealt with effectively because of our overburdened mental health care system.
The result is our communities are becoming more dangerous for innocent citizens, as dangerous and violent mentally ill people roam the streets looking for their next victim. Oregonians should be asking what our leadership is doing to remedy this crisis.