Why the VTech Shooter Was Free

Jonathan Kellerman, a professor of psychology, examines how it came about that someone as troubled as the VTech shooter was allowed to roam the streets at will.

Accepting the arguments of the liberationists and the libertarians at face value led to the assertion that no matter how bizarre, disabling or life-threatening a person's hallucinations and delusions, involuntary treatment was never called for. And to the assertion that violation of that premise created yet another class of political prisoners.

While moderate members of the anti-asylum movement were willing to concede that psychosis might pose difficulties for a few individuals, they insisted that society had no more right to force psychoactive drugs upon mental patients than it did to hold down diabetics for insulin injections. If treatment was to be offered, it needed to be consensually contracted between caregivers and care-recipients on an outpatient basis. That fit perfectly with the sensibilities of conservative scrooges searching for ways to cut the state budget, and all too happy to dismantle a massive state hospital system denigrated as inefficient at best and inhumane at worst. The replacement chosen was an untested, less costly treatment model: the community mental center.

How nice that everyone agreed.

Everyone, that was, except for many families of hospitalized, hopelessly-decompensated, often self-destructive and occasionally violent psychotics. They'd lived with the reality of severe mental illness and wondered what "freedom" would bring. But there weren't enough of these families to matter.

Read the whole thing. The link, as usual, is in the title.