A guilty system

September 1, 2009 

Your Aug. 26 editorial "A verdict on violence" illustrated the misunderstandings associated with treatment of the severely mentally ill. The young man involved, Alvaro Castillo, cried out for help. But that help was not available for him.

The editorial suggested that the jury had no choice but to find Castillo guilty. Was the jury familiar with past tragedies, such as that of Wendell Williams, with a different conclusion? Why would a judge think that prison would provide adequate mental health treatment, let alone our society think it is a reasonable alternative to hospitalization?

The editorial ended by saying that "by holding Alvaro Castillo responsible for what he did, jurors took a necessary step toward discouraging similar violence in the future." Unfortunately, a psychotic person is out of touch with reality. What is a logical consequence for a rational person has no meaning for such a person.

With the decision by our state legislature to reduce funds for the system of care for the mentally ill, which by every measure was already severely underfunded, the editorial should have ended by stating that this is a verdict on the mental health system in North Carolina!

Gerry Akland

Knightdale

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