Monday, October 22, 2007

AOT helps reduce crime

In Moscow, Idaho residents met to discuss the rise of crime in their community. The main incident in discussion was Jason Hamilton’s deadly rampage in May. Hamilton – who had a history of mental illness – killed his wife, a Moscow police officer, a church sexton and then himself, in the deadliest shooting in the town’s history.

Among the suggestions of increasing officer training and weapons bans, Second District Judge John Bradbury offered the following perspective:

He said society has criminalized mental illness because the current system does not allow intervention before a crime is committed.

“It's the only time, when we have a medical problem, that we wait until it has gotten so bad that somebody's actually in physical danger, that we intervene. And, I'm equally concerned about civil rights for people who are mentally ill, but I think it's much healthier and much better for the person involved if we intervene at an earlier stage and prevent that person from killing another person, then ends up being incarcerated for life, which is what we were trying to avoid when we reformed the system, in the sixties."

Deadly encounters with police, violent episodes, and incarceration are the results of years of misunderstanding the true nature of civil liberties. Idaho allows the state to intervene – with many protections – to save someone before they become another statistic. Those looking for a quick way to make improvements would do well to start with wider implementation of AOT.

Labels: , , ,