Friday, September 05, 2008

Tragedy Strikes on New Jersey Train Platform

Michael Fuccile was waiting for his train to work on Sept. 4, 2008, at the Liberty State Park light rail station when 26-year old Elgin Louis Taylor, Jr., who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia since age 16, stabbed and killed him.

The murder was a surprise.  Taylor’s illness and lack of treatment were not.

“I've been fighting the system for years to get the power of attorney to make him go to the hospital and make them keep him until he’s well,” said his distraught father.

This tragedy could have very likely been prevented.  In 2006, the New Jersey Senate unanimously passed a version of “Gregory’s Law” that would have brought assisted outpatient treatment in the Garden State.  Unfortunately, the bill didn’t move out of the Assembly and onto the Governor’s desk. 

The bill was named after 11-year old Gregory Katsnelson who, like Fuccile, was killed by someone with a severe mental illness who refused treatment.  Gregory would have turned 17 next month. 

New Jersey has strong leaders, including Senate President Richard J. Codey, who pushed for the measure.  Now is the time to make the final push so New Jersey is no longer one of a small handful of states that has no assisted outpatient treatment law.