Wednesday, May 24, 2006

“This guy was a walking time bomb.”

Andrew Goldstein will get a new trial in the murder of Kendra Webdale. Goldstein, off his medication, pushed Kendra in front of a New York subway train in 1999.

“If this case has a silver lining,” says the New York Post in an editorial today …

… it's that it produced the groundbreaking Kendra's Law, which lets interested parties get a court order to force outpatients to comply with medical treatment - including taking their medicine.

The real tragedy here is that Andrew Goldstein was free to kill because of a policy that shut down state mental hospitals and dumped thousands of mentally ill people, many potentially dangerous to themselves and others, onto the streets.
Kendra’s Law, a program of assisted outpatient treatment, was designed to help someone like Goldstein. Before the murder, he received 199 days of inpatient and emergency room services, on 15 different occasions, in six different hospitals from 1997 to 1999 (the year Kendra was killed). In 1998 alone, New York spent $95,000 for his mental health and residential care. But because New York did not have AOT, little could be done to ensure Goldstein maintained treatment.

Consequently, Goldstein spent the two years prior to Kendra’s death in repeated emergency room visits, medication noncompliance after release from the hospital, and at least eight incidents of unprovoked violence against others. Whenever Goldstein requested services, he changed his mind or failed to follow through. At no point did he appear to regularly take medication.

As the prosecutor noted in the New York Times, "He was striking out at nurses and psychiatrists. This guy was a walking time bomb."

As everyone is forced to relive the pain and horror of Kendra’s murder, the Treatment Advocacy Center wants to take a moment to remind everyone of the incredible good that Kendra’s Law is doing. The amazing results, the lives saved – the Webdale family can take pride in knowing that their advocacy is what made the difference.

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