Victim, suspect in fatal stabbing participated in same mental health program

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Saturday, July 16, 2011
— Fatal stabbing victim Joseph Hanson and William Davis, who is in custody under psychiatric review and is suspected of killing Hanson, share a common thread.

Both men, apartment neighbors at 31 S. Main St., Janesville, were members of Rock County’s Community Support Program, a state-supported treatment and rehabilitation program for people with severe and chronic mental illness.

Like Davis and Hanson, some 160 other people in Janesville and 125 people in Beloit get services through the program, which is part of the Rock County Human Services Department.

Agency officials agreed to speak about the program and how it works but declined to discuss specific people such as Davis or Hanson, who sources said were voluntary clients of the program.

Davis’ family declined a request to speak about his experience with the program.

Janesville Police Chief David Moore said that until the homicide, his officers hadn’t had much contact with Davis in the last four years.

“We haven’t had contact with him that resulted in a police report since 2007,” Moore said.

Kate Flanagan, the community support program’s supervisor, said most people enrolled in the community support program have severe, chronic mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or significant mood and behavior disturbances, such as bipolar disorder.

Some clients have been repeatedly incarcerated for crimes that stem from serious mental illness. Some are forced through court ordered mental health commitments to enroll in and continue the program.

Others enter it voluntarily.

The end game, Flanagan said, is to improve the lives of severely mentally ill people who otherwise would face being institutionalized.

“It’s a focus on recovery from mental illnesses. The hope is people with the illnesses can have really healthy lives and recover, even though they are struggling with the barriers related to mental illness,” Flanagan said.

Some clients in the program visit the program’s clinics in Beloit or Janesville, while others are visited at home by caseworkers assigned by the county. Clients can get a variety of services, including medication support, social and employment services, and help with life skills such as grocery shopping.

Doctors and nurses team with the county to form a network of support, while a crisis intervention team through human services handles after-hours issues. Local and county police act as liaisons to program caseworkers for clients with legal compliance issues.

The program cost $3.2 million last year, up from $2.4 million in 2004. Meanwhile, revenues haven’t increased, averaging $1.2 million in the last six years. The bulk of the program is paid for through Medicaid reimbursements, Flanagan said.

Flanagan said enrollment requests in the program are steady and records show the number of clients increased from 236 in 2001 to 285 in 2010.

Depending on the scope of their needs, Flanagan said, some clients get house calls from caseworkers as often as three times a day. Others might only get services a few times a month.

Voluntary clients aren’t obligated to continue services long term, although Flanagan said many do.

What if clients such as Davis or Hanson decided to stop receiving services suddenly? Flanagan said caseworkers are in the field so much that they often notice that issue right away.

“These are clinical relationships, but we know our clients really well. If we hadn’t seen a client we were used to seeing, we’d be assertively trying to find them and see how they were,” Flanagan said.

“You respect people’s wishes, but if there was a concern, definitely that outreach would happen,” she said.

Last updated: 5:53 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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