Clinicians at the Minnesota Security Hospital allowed a violent sex offender to leave last week because they did not fill out mandatory paperwork.
Raymond Traylor, 23, "poses a danger not only to the public but also to himself," the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said in a statement.
A Hennepin County judge sent Traylor to the Minnesota Security Hospital in April after a psychological evaluation found the sex offender was not competent to stand trial on misdemeanor charges. Traylor was so violent and threatening that he needed to be handcuffed during that evaluation.
Despite the apparent severity of Traylor's condition, once he arrived at the Minnesota Security Hospital, his case fell through the cracks. Clinicians missed a critical 60-day deadline to complete a report to determine whether Traylor needed to remain under civil commitment, according to documents reviewed by MPR News. As a result, the state had no legal grounds to detain him.
When Traylor learned of the mix-up, he told clinicians that he wanted to leave immediately. A few days later, someone at the facility dropped Traylor on a street corner in Minneapolis with just a few days' supply of medication and no clear plan for his treatment.
Anne Barry, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, said today that the department changed its procedure to prevent similar clerical errors.
"There are now two levels of backup," Barry said. "Previously it was one person's responsibility to make sure that this item got on the court's calendar, that this client's review got on the court's calendar."
However, Barry said even if hospital personnel had not missed the deadline, they still would have recommended Traylor for release.
The case marks the latest in a series of failures by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide adequate treatment for nearly 400 patients considered to be mentally ill and dangerous. The facility has been at risk of losing its license for more than two years because of inconsistent policies and alleged maltreatment.
Patient and employee injuries are common, according to facility data. The previous head of the Minnesota Security Hospital, David Proffitt was forced to resign last year after complaints about his abrasive and confrontational management style. Proffitt's behavior also led to the departure of the facility's top psychiatric staff. The Minnesota Security Hospital continues to operate with two full-time permanent psychiatrists, six less than it had when Proffitt was hired. The two psychiatrists, along with a rotating group of part-time and temporary providers, provide treatment for 400 of the most mentally ill people in the state.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office expressed alarm at the error. "As a mentally ill person-particularly one abruptly discharged from commitment-he is a vulnerable adult who can be preyed upon by others," the statement said. "Four months into what would have been a 6-month potentially renewable commitment, Mr. Traylor is again on the streets of Minneapolis because someone did not do their job."
Traylor has been staying at a shelter in downtown Minneapolis. The state's failure means that Traylor, whose charges were dropped in April, is not under civil commitment and cannot be forced into treatment. He still needs to register as a sex offender - that crime was committed when Traylor was a minor. Other than that requirement, Traylor is a free man.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday called the matter an inexplicable series of terrible blunders and said he plans to follow up this week with DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
"I'm told by the commissioner of DHS that the individual was not committed as a sexual offender, was committed under mental illness, not dangerous," Dayton told reporters. "That doesn't in any way absolve the responsibilities for handling the situation properly."
MPR News reporters Tim Pugmire and Matt Sepic contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported when Raymond Traylor was released. The current version is correct.