Saturday, March 10, 2007

Legal/Prison Issues

My initial job in Santa Cruz was Mental Health Program Chief. One part of that job was to oversee the psychiatric care of county jail inmates. I also saw defendants on court order to determine their sanity and/or competency to stand trial. So I became, by default, one of the few psychiatrists in town who would go to court and testify about such jail inmates. One of them turned out to be a male multiple, whom I write about in “Minds In Many Pieces.” A woman inmate who was multiple worked at the jail as a nurse when she wasn’t incarcerated there as an inmate. Her story is in a book called “Tell Me Who I Am Before I Die.” I then was called on by defense attorneys when they suspected they had a defense because of such a diagnosis. This led to my involvement in the Hillside Strangler Case, a notorious serial killer case in California and Washington state. One of the pair of killers, Kenneth Bianchi, based his defense on the possibility he had a killer alter inside of him, Steve, who was not known to Ken at the time of the murders.

Then, my last job was as a prison psychiatrist, treating inmates all day long. Some of them showed signs of multiplicity and presented major problems in management and treatment. Again, I learned a lot I would have missed if I had stayed in an office practice in town.