Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Texas two-step

After 2 years of treatment, Dena Schlosser, who killed her infant daughter by cutting off her arms, has been ordered to remain in a forensic psychiatric facility for at least another year. But Lisa Ann Diaz, who drowned her two daughters, has been released on the condition she undergo outpatient treatment.

This is focusing many in Texas on the issue of what constitutes appropriate punishment for someone like these two mothers.

"There needs to be a change in the law, something that would allow a person to receive treatment for illness but not escape punishment," said Greg Davis, a Collin County prosecutor. Davis and others are pushing for a new sentencing option in the state, guilty but mentally ill.

Apparently it isn’t punishment enough to have a debilitating brain disease, deteriorate into psychoses, and brutally murder your own child. Once you are restored to sanity, you then must spend the rest of your life behind bars plagued by what you did when you were lost to the symptoms of an untreated mental illness. Others in similar situations tell horrible stories of their torment once medication brings their symptoms under control.

As the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News noted: “The public can temper its revulsion by considering the very condition of mental illness. The afflicted do not cause or invite their torment. They suffer from it. Mental illness doesn't boil up from some malevolent core. Rather, it commonly stems from chemical or structural abnormalities in the brain.”

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