Tag Archives: NY Times

The NYT got it wrong in ‘When the Mentally Ill Own Guns’


Ok. Look, it’s December 29. I’m not in the mood for fancy arse commentaries here today. After all, year-in-year out only a handful of internet pedestrians walk by this site, so I can expect less visitors at this time, the end of the year.

So, the only comment I have about that NYT’s editorial, to which readers are not allowed to comment, is the following:

If this is true…

Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness.

then logic dictates that it is the other 60%, the ‘sane’ ones, whom you need to deal with. Those are the ones on whom you need to focus to confiscate their guns if any guns are going to be taken away. Why focus on the minority? The 60% sane ones are a “threat to themselves or others”, that’s more than the 40% who are non-violent mentally ill.

There, I said it.

Happy New Years to all the crazies. Let’s make it our new year resolution to  scare the hell out of the politicians this new year.

 

NYS gun law. sect 404 stigma gives a sense of safety.


 26    S  3.  Section  404  of  the correction law is amended by adding a new  subdivision 3 to read as follows:

28    3. WITHIN A REASONABLE PERIOD PRIOR TO DISCHARGE OF AN INMATE  COMMIT-TED FROM A STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY FROM A HOSPITAL IN THE DEPARTMENT OF  MENTAL  HYGIENE  TO  THE COMMUNITY, THE DIRECTOR SHALL ENSURE THAT A CLINICAL ASSESSMENT HAS BEEN COMPLETED TO DETERMINE WHETHER  THE  INMATE MEETS  THE CRITERIA FOR ASSISTED OUTPATIENT TREATMENT PURSUANT TO SUBDI-VISION (C) OF SECTION 9.60 OF THE MENTAL HYGIENE LAW. 

Comment: A person already in prison/psych hospital does not have a gun at hand. The law here doesn’t specify what that clinical assessment BEFORE release is looking for related to gun controls. Why is this provision of “assessment” of mental health  here under a gun control law and not as part of systematic mental health policy is beyond me. All it achieves, in my view, is officially stigmatizing  people with mental illness by associating them with  criminals and mass murderers.

Mental health advocates have been talking for years about how our state’s mental health policy has turned  prisons into the facto psych hospitals with no treatment there either. Now the punitive for-profit correctional system we have in this state will have more opportunities to keep the mentally ill inside and the state will ‘save’ some money to boot because, of course they will be found to be come mentally ill. Those who are mentally ill and were incarcerated for that will be related to this gun control law and declared a threat under this law.

And since now we have legally concluded that crimes committed with guns are crimes of the mentally ill, those who are NOT mentally ill but committed crimes with guns will find themselves on our side.

More comments to come later.

NYS’ new gun (and mental illness) control law.


Our state (NY) has just passed some new law on the issue of gun control, and mental illness to boot. Of course, the discussion about the law was kept “behind closed-door”, in the closet, so to speak.  How charming.

Why would they want to do such a thing, I ask myself. But then again, who am I to ask anything about them ‘law makers’?

I don’t want to burst your bubble of joy here but, I think I must. Just kidding.

When our legislators, at both state and federal level, sit behind closed doors, the law that comes out of there is filled with loopholes big enough to pass an elephant sitting on a tank through it.

So, save yourself a major disappointment IF you actually read the new law when it gets  published. If you don’t read the new law you will go away happy and content thinking that here something was done relating to gun control. If you read the law later, your bubble is bound to burst. Choose: to read or not to read.

The other thing is the now fait accomplished of wielding together mentally ill people with mass killer. That’s what the legislation has done, based on what the news tell us. Maybe we ought to call this law ‘the stigma of mental illness Act’.

And to not waste the opportunity, they also wielded together Kendra’s Law to the mentally ill and gun owners. Involuntary commitment usually goes hand in hand with stigma and stereotypes. Have you already forgotten Willowbrook and the recent articles about mistreatment of the disabled  and mentally ill? The cases of police called to help with some distressed person only to have the cops taser and kill that person? Now, you can include old fashion straight jackets to the mix of tools to deal with gun owners. See my post on fashion for the mentally ill here.

This new law makes ‘official’ the boggy man’s theory of the relation between gun ownership and mental illness. I’m waiting for our ‘leaders’ to pass a law that makes it official that foreclosure and poverty causes mental illness; that there is correlation between  the political and economical disorder  of a society and increase in violence and mental disorders there.

Our fashionable  “fiscal cliff” is a term that ought to point to you to that relation I just mentioned.

The "fiscal cliff" as a cause for mental instability. There ought to be a law against 'fiscal cliffs'.

The “fiscal cliff” as a cause of mental instability. There ought to be a law against ‘fiscal cliffs’.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/nyregion/new-york-legislators-hope-for-speedy-vote-on-gun-laws.html#commentsContainer

Judge Limits N.Y.P.D. Stop-and-Frisk Program in Bronx – NYTimes


This is a victory for the people over what I consider a quasi-police-state. I’m been cautious, of course, with that label.

The case had to do with NYPD stop-and-frisk tactics in da Bronx. While the case related to some buildings where the managers had given permission to the cops to stop “on the spot” and arrest “intruders” in those building, the mindful and fair judge recognized the tactic as one that affects the residents of the whole borough. She stated that residents of other boroughs (Manhattan?) would never accept the indignities that these tactics perpetrate in residents in their buildings. People visiting a person in those buildings in the Bronx are routinely arrested as ‘trespassers’.

“Because any member of the public could conceivably find herself outside a TAP building in the Bronx, the public at large has a liberty and dignity interest in bringing an end to the practice of unconstitutional stops at issue in this case,” the judge wrote.

Thus, the judge ruled for the tenants of the building and the Bronx in general. Major, MAJOR ruling.  As a result, the NYPD has to change a ton of ‘practices’.

This  is the part of the ruling that I liked the most:

But Judge Scheindlin found “that the public interest in liberty and dignity under the Fourth Amendment trumps whatever modicum of added safety might theoretically be gained from the N.Y.P.D.’s making unconstitutional trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx.”

“modicum of added safety”, that’s right: MODICUM, as in ‘not worth the indignities and the loss of freedom so that the cops can run you down for your own protection’.

There’s a PDF with the whole case, all 157 pages.

Judge Limits N.Y.P.D. Stop-and-Frisk Program in Bronx – NYTimes.com.

Erika Menendez, and the “impossible dream”.


I confess: I rather spend New Years Eve writing about this than freezing my touchy in Time Square. Eh, there are other reasons, let’s leave it at that.

OK. look: mental health, it’s not only a state of mind. It’s also a state of political priorities. There will for ever be people with mental issues, just as there will forever be poor people and wars.  So, how do we deal with those issues? We put most of our money on wars-for-profit.

Historically, we deal with mental health problems as in a spring: up and down turns, never going back to the same place…supposedly.

up and down, but never up in the beginning.

up and down, but never up in the beginning.

I have an ‘outline’ of  the history of our nation’s mental health system policy here, written in the summer. I keep writing about that past because it is TOTALLY relevant to today’s problems. The point is that dealing with ‘disruptive’ citizens is not new. Historically we lump the mentally ill and the ‘feeble’, the petty thieves and the communists/anarchists/socialist and feminists in prison and psych hospitals. Yes, even the political  prisoners wind-up in psych ‘treatment’.

Our less critical citizens tend to display knee-jerk reactions and solutions to every problem the news papers talk about. Today the issue is so-called mentally ill people running berserk, unmedicated, killing civilians. Hit me in the knee for a solution, please:

How solutions for social problems are really made.

How solutions for social problems are really made.

OK, let’s round-up anyone who shows anger at anything, real or imagined, commit them involuntary, and forget about them in the hospitals. Just as we did until…this year! Read about the NY Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Check my post about this here.

That’s exactly what we do: we ignore their problems, we forget about them in the hospitals until one day good ol’ New York Times reports about the abuses in the hospitals (reports for the next 12 or 20 years) and one day we say ‘fine, open the hospitals; throw them to the streets.’ That’s your knee-jerk mental health policy process in action. No planning, no priority.

I have written in this blog many times about this. We have a plan. Please, read our ‘Vision” in the page up there.

How do you solve this problem? You can’t. You can only pablum it because you don’t want to spend the money it takes to provide the quality of services that would prevent this from happening. It’s not just services, it’s QUALITY of services that we need. Forced-medicate a person could be necessary ONCE; the problem is when you get used to force-medicate and it becomes a power-tool in your hands to use when you feel like doing it. And you know nobody is watching over you. It’s like those cops who abuse their power and you see them in the news beating unarmed civilians. Or when you WITHHOLD the services and meds because of carelessness and neglect. Same thing.

Erika Menendez does not lives in outer space, in a vacuum. You can point at her history and say ‘she was a problem’. Fine. If you neglect to see how and why the mental health system dealt with her, you become part of the problem.

Here in the NY Times an article about how mental health services are being reduced after the hurricane Sandy (here)

“I cried when I saw her,” Ms. Rosa said. “I found her in horrible conditions. She was lying in her own feces, she had a fractured leg and the provider could not explain how her leg was fractured.”

That has happened since BEFORE the hurricane, is common practice; you just didn’t want to know about it. Be honest, you still don’t care about how that woman is been treated in our house of ‘healing’.  What about those reports for over 10 years in the NY Times about abuses in adult home care run by the state? Willowbrook is alive and well! And your solution is still  to open that house of horrors as mental health policy again?! How is that a solution? How is ignoring that our bureaucrats are  doing a lousy job at managing our public mental health system a conscientious citizenry practice?

Our Office of Mental Health (OMH) doesn’t want to spend the money on monitoring abusive providers. For that reason, I guess, they have renegaded  the mandate to certify and monitor  every program (public). Interestingly enough,  pretty often OMH ends up being one of the DEFENDANTS in some of the most abject cases of abuse on the elderly, the mentally ill and the physically disabled. OMH has decertified more than half of programs that serves the mentally ill. I wrote about that here in this blog too. I’m still waiting for OMH to correct me on this. (Patience, I will get there.)

It is YOU who should be asking  OMH why have they decertified so many programs. YOU who should be asking OMH why is it that THEY so often end up as DEFENDANTS in those court cases about abuse to those who can’t protect themselves.

We, consumers, are fighting the budget cuts that not only cut spending but, inevitably, cut the quality of  services too. And we keep losing cases in courts about abusive providers and State.

Now, you tell me: If your budget cuts in mental health bring reduced quality of services, how do you think that may affect YOU? And, who wants to go WILLINGLY to psych hospitals or state-run adult home care (“assisted living”) housing to be abused?

FORCED HOSPITALIZATION:

As a consumer that I am, I tell you that I wouldn’t mind being carted away if I start to ‘lose it’…BUT NOT IN THIS SYSTEM. I have been hospitalized three times in the last 12 years, always ‘voluntarily’. The fear and terror I feel every time is not funny. I want to be treated, NOT MISTREATED. In psych hospitals, you bump into a tired worker and BAM, next you find yourself tied up to a bed and being ECTed. This didn’t happen to me, I witnessed it, though.

The abuses I have received in the hands of providers in the community is enough to make me distrust the system.

I used to work, and after I got ‘sick’, I wanted treatment and return to work. Thanks to my provider, NOT MY ILLNESS, my dream became an impossible dream. I had to fight, to get the services I needed, FOR FIVE years. It was only when I went to court PRO SE (without lawyer) that I saw some change. I lost the case, of course. A long story.

The mental health system and its policies needs monitoring by the citizenry. The consumers have no voice. No one listens to our screams, only when one of us succumbs to the neglect and the mistreatment.

LISTEN TO US, PLEASE. Let’s engage in a public conversation with us as HUMAN BEINGS, don’t talk about us in the third person.

You can’t cut funds and not monitor the system and then pretend that the sick people will get better by magic.

Forced hospitalization is a remedy for your convenience, so you don’t have to think about the problem. It does not to fix the problem.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.