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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  September 27, 2009
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Topic category:  Other/General

They did what??!??

There’s this image in my head. It’s of a group of “authorities” sitting around in a (very) closed and (very) private conference room at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, Washington.

They’re mostly looking down at their notes, at the walls, or out of the windows and the one thought that’s on all of their minds is this: “What the devil were we thinking?”

Note to readers - they weren’t - thinking that is. Acting the fool, however, is something else altogether.

In case you missed the story - published by the AP (among others) - these same “authorities” recently decided that it would be a grand idea to allow Mr. Phillip Arnold Paul to attend the Spokane County Fair in civilian clothes. Mr. Paul then proceeded to escape.

Adding tomfoolery to tomfoolery, police weren’t notified that Mr. Paul was unaccounted for until two hours after he’d gone missing.

This, you should know, was not Mr. Paul’s first escape.

Back in 1991, he walked away during a day trip (likely, again, approved by similar “authorities”) to a nearby lake. He was later captured but, while being booked into custody, knocked a guard unconscious and was convicted of assault for that little shenanigan.

For the record, Mr. Paul is not the type of person you - or your kids - would enjoy encountering anywhere, let alone at a county fair. That would be because, in 1987, he was institutionalized after being acquitted by reason of insanity for killing an elderly woman. After killing her, he soaked her body in gasoline to keep search dogs off of her scent and buried her body in her own flower garden.

The AP report also noted that Mr. Paul was a “white male, 5-foot-8, 220 pounds, with brownish-gray hair, blue eyes, and a goatee.” His brother, Tom, was quoted as saying that his brother “was a high school and junior college wrestler and a martial artist who should not be approached” and that “I’m a tough guy but I wouldn’t take him on.”

The story went on to say that members of an employees union at the institution had long opposed these outings and that they’d sought to stop such trips for “murderers, rapists and pedophiles committed to the hospital as criminally insane.” Apparently, however, “authorities” knew better and allowed them to continue.

On the trip in question, 31 patients were being supervised by 11 staff members. By my math, that would be one staff member for about every three patients. This at a fair. This where, when my wife and I took our kids to such events, we often had trouble keeping track of them when we were one-on-one and they weren’t trying to escape.

Thankfully, he was captured several days later near Goldendale, WA and no one had been hurt.

When I was a young officer, one of the best captains I ever worked for gave me a piece of advice that’s stayed with me until this day.

He said that “whenever you’re considering doing something a bit outside of the envelope (and I’d say that allowing a criminally insane killer to attend a fair could be considered ‘outside of the envelope’), run through your mind what the headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper will be when it all goes down the toilet.”

In this case, one of the calmer headlines I read was: “Insane killer escapes on field trip to county fair.”

This one’s wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. Still, here are a few suggestions for all such “authorities” whenever they’re considering things like allowing criminally insane killers to attend a county fair:

First: Stop with the sit-ups you’ve apparently been doing under low coffee tables. The damage goes a lot deeper than the bruises to your foreheads.

Second: Find someone without an alphabet of degrees behind his or her name who has a couple of kids, a raft of grandkids, and who’s known around town for having a commodity that seems to be sorely missing in your group. That commodity would be common sense. Add that person to your group immediately.

Third: Listen closely whenever this individual suddenly says, “You’re gonna do what?”

Fourth: Decide that each and every one of you will all very publicly resign immediately whenever you ignore such common sense and a snafu like this one occurs.

Good grief. This one’s enough to make you wonder just who is running that asylum.

But we already know.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.


Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2009 by Larry Simoneaux
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