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Mental Health Center: Dollars — and Sense?


It?s a topic that can be sensitive: how to care for and treat mental health patients, especially one that has committed a heinous crime.

Christopher Persyn was convicted of murder but for insanity in 1998. The crime occurred in the Portland area, but Persyn eventually was transferred to the Deschutes Recovery Center in Bend, a facility that serves as an extension of the state mental hospital.

Deschutes County floated $1.32 million in bonds to build the recovery center, completing it in 2010.

It costs the county $95,400 a year to make payment on the bonds, it also budgets $22,000 for maintenance. The county gets $138,800 a year from the state leaving a budgeted profit of $21,400 year.

But the real payoff is getting the building paid for over the life of the bond, leaving the county a ?free? building in the future.

That makes great financial sense, but it does not sit well with neighbors after Persyn was given a pass to leave the facility unsupervised twice a week for 45 minutes, with another inmate

“Just having someone like that walking around our neighborhood, especially with a bunch of kids living right up the street — I mean, you don’t know what other stuff he’s done, I guess,? said Chris Barber. He lives about two blocks from the Deschutes Recovery Center.

Anyone can make the “not in my backyard” argument, but on the NewsChannel 21 Website; a broader question.

911 Skeeter wrote: “?shouldn’t we release him back to his own community of residence and not release him to maybe cause harm to someone in our community?”

Persyn’s crimes were committed in the Portland area. In fact, only seven of the 15 current residents at the center have ties to Central Oregon.

?Today, in order to make the building pencil and to run it efficiently, we need to attract patients from other areas,? said county Commissioner Alan Unger.

Unger says the county has to plan for the long term…when the local need for treatment beds will be higher.

In the meantime, the county gets a building that is paying itself off — and neighbors like Chris Barber sleep with a new concern.

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