It’s being reported that the GOP majority in the General Assembly, outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue, and incoming Governor Pat McCrory are all squabbling about what to do with the former Dorothea Dix Hospital property in Raleigh. For decades, Dix was the place to send the criminally deranged, and others with serious mental illness, for treatment and segregation from civil society.
Apparently, Lame Duck Bev wants to lease the property to the City of Raleigh so they can turn it into a “destination park.” Come on, kids. Let’s go out for some family fun at the scary old mental hospital. GOP leaders in the legislature suggest that the deal should be killed and the property should be “studied.”
I’m all for unloading as much state-owned property as possible. (Especially with billions in debt that needs to be paid off.) Leasing it to Raleigh is kind of like buying me dinner with the cards in MY wallet. You’re giving me something, but I’m still paying for it. If the state has NO VIABLE plans for the place, put it out there for any and all potential private sector purchasers.
Some Department of Corrections sources tell me there is a bigger story out there regarding the aftermath of Dorothea Dix’s closure. Many of the former residents at Dix have simply been farmed out to regular state prison facilities across the state like McCain Correctional Institute, a minimum security facility near Raeford in Hoke County. One of my DOC sources tells me:
“They’re just mixing these people in with the general population. You’ve got these seriously mentally ill people, wandering among the general population, having prolonged discussions — and sometimes arguments — with the block walls. There is no real treatment being offered for these people. The prison staffers, for the most part, are not trained to deal with mental patients. When it comes time to shorten sentences and cut inmates loose to comply with prison overcrowding regulations, the system is dumping seriously mentally-ill people — who were sent to places like Dix for a good reason — back onto the street. It’s not right. It’s a real recipe for trouble. ”