Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where We Fall Short

There are a number of areas where the US falls short. I want to focus on two areas which we as a country aren’t doing very well, with the result of higher crime and lower quality of life. Those two areas are, care for the mentally ill and not getting career criminals off the streets for good.

Lack of Care for the Mentally Ill

Some years ago, I believe in the 1960s, someone decided that the mentally ill have certain “rights,” and they should be allowed to make choices and shouldn’t be put into mental hospitals. As a result, the mental hospitals were emptied, and these people were let loose, often to fend for themselves. Many ended up homeless, some commit crimes like pushing people off subway platforms or stabbing someone randomly, and some end up in group homes. Sadly, some get themselves a gun and shoot up a school, movie theater, church, or synagogue.

While the mentally ill should not be mistreated, the question becomes what “rights” should they have. Many of the mentally ill are incapable for making rational decisions, so it is not appropriate to give them certain decision-making rights. I don’t think they should have the right to refuse to take the medications prescribed for them if that medication calms them down or relieves their symptoms, or makes them less prone to violence. I believe they should have a right to proper care and treatment, which means bringing back the mental hospitals, but with proper oversight so abuse does not occur. A compassionate society not only takes care of its mentally ill but protects its citizens from violent acts by the deranged.

There should be a national database of mentally ill people made available to gun shops so they won’t sell a gun to someone who is mentally unstable. Some may say this is an invasion of privacy and a violation of HIPAA, yet we need to protect our citizens from acts of violence done by deranged people. Unfortunately some mentally ill people manage to get a gun from a careless gun owner, like a father who doesn’t secure his guns properly. Or a mother who goes to the firing range with her mentally ill son and teaches him how to shoot.

Career Criminals Roaming the Streets

We have revolving door justice system in which repeat offenders get arrested, cop a plea, do some jail time, and are released back to the streets where they will commit more crimes. Eventually some of them kill someone or cause serious bodily harm. I see on the news a report of a serious crime, and it’s reported that the perpetrator has a long “rap sheet.” What’s he still doing on the streets? Don’t law-abiding citizens have a right to be safe and not put in danger by career criminals?

It’s obvious that these career criminals aren’t going to change their ways. Their times in jail haven’t rehabilitated them, and they are a menace to society. They should be locked up for an extended period of time because I believe our citizens have a right to be safe from criminals wandering the streets looking for their next victim.

This may necessitate the building of more prisons, which is costly, yet the cost to society of the crimes these guys commit is even higher. It would be nice if the states would teach these inmates a skill, and perhaps they could then receive an early release if they show a willingness to go straight and get a job. Again, there would be a cost to train these inmates, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. How about some restorative justice for those who show a willingness to turn their lives around?

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