POSTED: 8:25 am EDT October 25, 2005
UPDATED: 8:46 am EDT October 25, 2005
PROVIDENCE -- A group of psychiatrists objected to the state's plan to commit a sex offender to the state's psychiatric hospital.
Paul Lieberman, president of the Rhode Island Psychiatric Society, said people should be hospitalized only if they need psychiatric care. Committing someone just to keep them off the streets would be a "gross abuse" of medical standards, he said.
"Incarceration is not a medical treatment and people should not be put into psychiatric hospitals, which are designed for psychiatric illness, to prolong incarceration," Lieberman said.
State officials have proposed placing Todd McElroy in a locked ward at Eleanor Slater Hospital on Friday when he is released from prison. It is the first time they have used a law that allows state officials to petition a judge to hold a sex offender for up to six months in a psychiatric ward.
McElroy, 39, was sentenced to 42 years in prison for kidnapping and raping a 10-year-old boy. The former Warwick resident has served 17 years and will be on probation for the next 25.
Lieberman and representatives from five other medical organizations said Monday that they believe McElroy should be freed but supervised during probation.
But H. Reed Cosper, the state's mental health advocate, said he believes McElroy needs some transitional hospital care after receiving improper medical treatment in prison. McElroy spent almost four and a half years in isolation after attacking inmates and staff.
Massachusetts law allows state officials to petition the court to detain sex offenders who would be dangerous if released from prison. Rhode Island law does not allow that.
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