Taking care of our unfortunate fellows

Mary and  Joseph looked for a place to stay for the night. They aren’t alone.

We are surrounded by unfortunate people. If we close our  eyes to it, we are  guilty of neglect.  We used to have special hospitals for the mentally ill. We closed  those over time due to abuses and a plan to move them to regular hospitals and community based treatment centers.

The treatment centers rarely materialized except in some enlightened urban centers.

President Kennedy started work on the problem.

CNN did a story on homelessness. This is a serious problem.

I was just enjoying a swim at my local  YMCA and conversation with my fellow citizens. One of them  told me a story of encountering a mentally ill man picking his skin bloody in front of her business. She spoke with him, but there was no one home.  She herself has a brother with mental illness. She  showed compassion.

She called the police to get aid for this person. They investigated the man and then asked her where they should take him.

She asked had they never dealt with a mentally ill person before ?  Why would they ask her where to take him?

While meeting with a Detective at the Ventura County Sheriff’s office, I overheard a former customer asking about going back to jail. Jail provided him with a place to sleep and meals. Seems to me we need better places for people to go.

Our major mental hospitals are closed. We do need community based health care to take  over. This needs to be added to municipal code that the mentally ill be provided for. I’m not talking about the Ritz but a safe, clean, dry place to get treatment, get a place to sleep, use the restroom, take a shower, do some laundry, etc.  They could also receive services.

I have asked my Assemblyman’s office to add this to the municipal code. We are all human being and we need to take care of even those with severe mental illness. With treatment, many will get well and become contributing societal members.

It’s the right thing to do. I hope you agree. We are one of the most advanced societies on Earth. Shouldn’t that be reflected in our actions ?

Bernardo de La Paz
Creative Commons License
Taking care of our unfortunate fellows by Bernado de la Paz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Crime and Punishment

The current state of the rehabilitation system as an industry that makes money by incarcerating people of all ages in this country is a serious problem and expense for our society. More people in our country are imprisoned than ever before.

First, people are given prison time for victimless crimes. Prison doesn’t rehabilitate these people. A better solution would be perhaps quick corporal punishment followed by counselling and probation without a felony conviction on the record that would prevent them from getting a good job or education.

Second, many incarcerated persons suffer from treatable mental illness that could be more inexpensively and expeditiously treated outside of the prison system.

For the violent criminal, corporal punishment followed by forced education and job placement should be considered. With strong supervision by a caring and diligent staff might be a better option.

For the truly violent, incarnation in the appropriate setting where they can get treatment and perhaps parole down the road.

For corporal punishment, punishment is rarely effective unless it is unusual. Robert Heinlein pointed out some examples eg. A drunk driver that causes an accident injuring people might be staked out on a road and then driven over. A person who kills a person for no lawful cause should be made by society to make amends, Eg to work to replace the probable future earnings of the individual. (Thank you Hammarabi and Robert A Heinlein)

A form of quick corporal punishment for major infractions is flogging. Please review Judicial Corporal punishment

True psychopaths should be appropriately diagnosed and hospitalized in a facility until they can be cured.

Our existing incarceration system is a waste of human and monetary capital. This is most true when dealing with criminal youth. It is well known that human brains aren’t fully developed until the mid 20’s. Education is the best way to deal with juvenile crime.

Our politicians either lack character or our ignorant of these facts.  The truth is that corporate interests with deep pockets are contributing to our political infrastructure. This influences our politicians to use the services of these corporations.  Just follow the money.

Our legislators have been creating more and more laws such that an person can innocently break a law with no criminal intent. Many laws have been created that don’t require criminal intent to be convicted of the crime.   It’s now recommended by many attorneys to never speak to the police without an attorney present as you may dig your own grave.

To the folks that say a poor upbringing leads to criminal activity by their children. I have two images from my experience to share with you.

1) Jerry G: The grandson of a Federal Judge who attended, parochial high school, worked in a ski area, then worked in a chop shop before joining the US Navy and serving in Gulf War 1, becoming later a pharmacist and husband.

2) Eddie O: The grandson of an Eastern City Police chief.  Violently and repeatedly stabs his best friends mother to death in her home.

Jerry G: exhibited some criminal behavior as a youth.  He grew up to become a great citizen and contributor to society.

Eddie O: became an incarcerated psychopath.

An informal survey of of 10 men at a recent YMCA Indian Guide campout showed to me that 9/10 men did things in their youth they are ashamed of and would be considered misdemeanors or even felonies.

I can say with authority that even a future US Senator can make a mistake.

Time to reform our laws and treatment of lawbreakers and the politicians who make these laws. While there are no quick answers, we could certainly do a better job.

Oct 22, 2014 —
National Academy on Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform (free pdf download)

3/5/2015 – The USA DOJ report on the Ferguson Police Department

4/8/2014 National Academy report on The Growth of Incarceration in the United states

Adam Selene October 2014
Creative Commons License
Crime and Punishment by Adam Selene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Mental illness and shame

A serious issue in our nation is the stigma of mental illness.

Statistically,  mental illness will affect many of us sometime in our lives. There are now effective therapies for many of these illnesses. However, many who suffer from possible mental illness forgo getting treatment as they know that they will subsequently be discriminated against in work, or life by insurers or by political functionaries.

Our politicians make laws that take away the rights of anyone who has ever been treated for mental illness when most people suffering from mental illness are not a threat to anyone and are in fact more likely to be victimized by violent crime.

It is time to educate our lawmakers and fix the law and society. Our lawmakers should think of their grandchildren who may be subject to the laws they make and the society they create.

Adam Selene October 2014

Creative Commons License
Mental Illness and Shame by Adam Selene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.