News Article Details

EDITORIAL: Just mental: New York must do much, much more to ensure seriously mentally ill people get treatment

The New York Daily News - 1/5/2020

Jan. 5--Anti-Semitism, a virus to counter all on its own, has had a helping hand in recent weeks. Many of those arrested in violent attacks on Jews were struggling with serious mental illness.

That's a reminder of a widespread problem: Our fractured mental health system has far few tools to make psychotic people get treatment they desperately need. Too often, treatment comes only when they're ordered to receive it after committing a crime.

Grafton Thomas, the machete-wielding man arrested for attacking five people attending a Chanukah celebration, is a diagnosed schizophrenic who fell off his meds two months before his devastating rampage.

On Dec. 23, a 28-year-old named Steven Jorge attacked a 65-year-old man in Manhattan, yelling "F--k you, Jew bastard!" Jorge was jailed and forced to undergo a psychological examination.

On Dec. 26, a homeless woman named Ayana Logan attacked a woman and her child in Brooklyn, screaming "You f---- Jew! Your end is coming!" A judge ordered her to participate in a city mental health program. A day later, a woman named Tiffany Harris was arrested for slapping three Orthodox women. She was arrested two more times before authorities forced her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at a city hospital.

Would these crimes have occurred if the alleged attackers had been treated under Kendra's Law, which allows officials to seek court-ordered mental health treatment when people pose immediate danger to themselves or others?

It's too late to answer those questions, but not too late to prevent future attacks. More aggressive treatment is compassion. Neglect is cruelty.

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