Monday, April 22, 2013

Wake Up: Gun Control Vote Failed: There Are Other Problems

Instapundit points to this April 22, 2013 Chicago Sun-Times article about a mentally ill woman who has been arrested 396 times on numerous charges, some of them for violent crimes, but she is still out on the street:
Since 1978, Chicago Police alone have arrested Miles 396 times, mostly on the North Side — under at least 83 different aliases. Those arrests include 92 for theft, 65 for disorderly conduct, 59 for prostitution-related crimes and five for robbery or attempted robbery. 

The frustrating truth: The system — strapped by overcrowded prisons and cuts to mental health funding — hasn’t been able to save Miles from herself or to help the communities she menaces. Nothing has worked. Not jail. Not prison. Not countless psychological exams for the woman described as being “acutely psychotic.”
And thanks to Instapundit for linking to my book about this problem -- the one that the mainstream media would prefer to ignore.  And Dave Kopel is banging the drum over at April 18, 2013 National Review:
Today is a good day to begin what should have begun on December 15, 2012: the search for genuine reforms that could help prevent another Newtown...

Because only a very small percentage of people who are mentally ill are dangerously violent, it is essential that dialogue about reforms not stigmatize the mentally ill as a general class. As with the deprivation of any constitutional right, there must be strong protections for due process, including fair hearings where both sides can present evidence, and a neutral decision-maker. Especially with regard to America’s veterans, such reforms are long overdue, and Senator Richard Burr’s reform amendment on this issue got 56 votes yesterday.

But mental-health reforms must go far beyond the issue of gun possession. Some of the violent mentally ill, like the Aurora murderer, can build sophisticated bombs. Anyone who is severely mentally ill and violent can run over a crowd of people with a car.

The murderers in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown were all people who should have been civilly committed for treatment. Half a century ago, they could have been. State-level reforms should strengthen civil-commitment laws while fully respecting due process. States’ funding for mental -health treatment needs to be greatly increased. Over the past months, I have received many e-mails from people who know someone who is mentally ill and violent; again and again, they are told that the state or local government has no resources to help the individual — until the individual is caught perpetrating a violent felony, and then the individual will be imprisoned. In fact, more spending on mental health now would pay for itself in the long run with reduced prison costs.


  1. Let's say that someone waved a magic checkbook and made the money happen. Is that the only barrier?

    You could probably crowdsource the funding for the worst walking time bombs if it's merely a matter of a lack of funds. I suspect that it's more than that but have no expertise to put data behind that intuition.

  2. Money is only one of the barriers. The ACLU is zealous in insisting that involuntary commitment is a form of discrimination against the mentally ill. That was why Connecticut refused to make even a minor change in their commitment laws last year.

  3. Money comes and goes. Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on the non-monetary barriers so that when good economic times return, we can actually go forward with a more sensible regime?

  4. That's the reason for the last book, and the law school symposium that I have been invited to in Connecticut in the fall.