Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Geraldo and the mentally ill

Geraldo Rivera has demonstrated that he understands and sympathizes with the plight of the mentally ill in America. In 1999, he exposed the tragic “transinstitutionalization” of the mentally ill to jails and prisons after so many psychiatric hospitals closed. In the award-winning documentary "Back To Bedlam" he showed “[e]specially painful … accounts of parents who find that the only way they can get some sort of medical attention for their children is to have them convicted of a felony.”

So we don’t think he really meant it when he said on Geraldo At Large last night - in a story about the tragic police shootings in Virginia - that mentally ill people who are dangerous should be incarcerated.

TAC certainly does not advocate that position. We advocate treatment before a person becomes dangerous using proven means such as assisted outpatient treatment.

We appreciate that Geraldo once again exposed the consequences of nontreatment by telling the story of Michael Kennedy, a man suffering from psychotic symptoms who was killed after he took the lives of 2 Fairfax County police officers.

We suspect Geraldo would agree that treatment works and that the focus should be on early and sustained treatment that allows the mentally ill to live safely and productively in the community.

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