More Hate Crimes - Cruelty to Mentally Disabled Persons
Unfortunately, violence toward psychiatric patients is reaching epidemic proportions. Prosecutors should try more persons who abuse or kill mental patients under hate crime laws. The more stringent sentencing provisions for hate crimes may serve as a deterrent against cruelty to disabled persons.
Consider the cases below:
Homeless, Elderly Psychiatric Patient Doused with Gasoline and Burned to Death in LA http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeless13-2008oct13,0,5382004.story
After John Robert McGraham (pictured) sank into depression in the early 1980s and lost his job at the old Ambassador Hotel, his sisters got him to see a therapist. But it didn't work. In desperation, they tried to get him committed, but he skipped out.
Then last week, someone threw gasoline from a red canister on the homeless man who seemed rooted to the corner of 3rd and Berendo streets, in a densely populated, diverse neighborhood west of downtown. Neighbors rushed to save him in the Thursday night darkness. But his body had been charred, and he died.
On Sunday evening, more than 200 people crowded the sidewalk and spilled over into 3rd Street for a memorial to McGraham. Many of them wept as dozens of votive candles glowed on the concrete. McGraham's sister Susanne McGraham-Paisley brought pictures of her brother.
**Note: According to Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), this tragedy may have been avoided by enactment of Laura's Law. Read about it at this link:
It is a series of bad policies that left McGraham to the dangers of the streets instead of receiving the benefits of treatment. He was a helpless victim. There is a long list of things that could be handled better, but let’s focus on one solution within grasp of policy makers to fix. Los Angeles and every county need to implement Laura’s Law now.
Staff at Psychiatric Facility Beat Patients with Hand Weights, Then Pour Bleach into Open Wounds
Posted: Oct 22, 2008 08:14 AM CDT
PINEVILLE, (AP) - Five people have been arrested on a total of 40 charges in connection with cruelty to patients at Pinecrest Supports and Services Center.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's office says employees told investigators that the abused patients were battered with hand weights and that bleach was placed on an individual's open wound.
Pinecrest Supports and Services Center, formerly known as Pinecrest Developmental Center, is a state facility in Pineville for severely mentally challenged patients.
The sheriff's office identified the suspects as Clara Harrell, Brenda Prater, Renetha Cheatham, Johnny Simon, and Windell Smith.
The suspects have all bonded out of jail. Officials say the investigation is continuing, and additional arrests are possible.
Mentally Disabled Man Sues Canadian Police, Who Attacked and Tasered Him Repeatedly While He Was Home in Bed
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />October 8, 2008
TORONTO, Canada — The case of a mentally disabled man allegedly zapped with a Taser when Toronto police burst into his bedroom highlights the need for an ongoing national debate on the use of the stun guns, a prominent lawyer said Tuesday.
The family of George Lochner is suing the police for more than $9 million, claiming the man was beaten and zapped with a Taser in August 2006 when officers entered the family home looking for his brother, Silvano, who was wanted for threatening a neighbour.
Armed with a warrant, police were searching for Silvano when they came across George, who has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and was sleeping at the time.
Whereas American hate crime laws can do nothing for mental patients like George Lochner, who lives in Canada, applying those laws may reduce the abuse and deaths of psychiatric patients in the U.S.
Currently pending before the Senate is H.R. 1592: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. This legislation has already passed in the House. This bill would provide federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other purposes.
(1) IN GENERAL- At the request of State, local, or Tribal law enforcement agency, the Attorney General may provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or any other form of assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that--
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill