Parker testifies on bill to expand notification of disappearances from mental health facilities

6th District lawmaker introduced bill after escape of Phillip Paul from Spokane’s Eastern State Hospital outing


Today, Rep. Kevin Parker testified on his legislation to expand notification when someone escapes or disappears from a mental health institution.

Rep. Parker The bill was prompted after a mentally ill individual escaped from an outing with Eastern State Hospital in September 2009.

“This is a simple, common-sense bill that will increase notification to recover missing mentally ill people who need to be under the care of the state,” said Parker, R-Spokane. “Had this bill been in place last year, it would not have taken two-and-a-half days and $37,000 for authorities to recover Phillip Paul, a potential danger to society.”

House Bill 2422 would require superintendents of mental health facilities to notify:

  • local and state law enforcement;
  • any victims from crimes committed by the missing person;
  • witnesses to the crime;
  • appropriate government agencies; and
  • the missing person’s relatives.

Previously, only the missing person’s relatives, local law enforcement and some government agencies were required to be notified. The bill is expected to be approved by the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Friday.

“We learned several important lessons with the escape in September, and one is that we should improve communication when someone has escaped or disappeared from a mental institution,” Parker said.

Parker has also co-signed House Bill 2717, which would restrict outings for those mentally ill under the custody of the state. That bill has not yet received a public hearing.


Contact: Sarah Lamb, public information officer, (360) 786-7720


Washington State House Republican Communications