Ann Althouse posts on the subject I raised this morning – although not surprisingly, more cogently.
“Studies in New York and Connecticut from the 1920s through the 1940s showed a much lower arrest rate for the mentally ill. In an era when involuntary commitment was relatively easy, those who were considered a danger to themselves or others would be hospitalized at the first signs of serious mental illness. The connection between insanity and crime was apparent, and the society took a precautionary approach. Mentally ill persons who were not hospitalized were those not considered a danger to others. This changed as deinstitutionalization took effect.”
Which is not to deny that there were some horrific stories of people wrongfully held in what were essentially prisons for decades – there was a reason for the deinstitutionalizing movement back then, after all – but by making it almost impossible to commit anyone, we’ve set the stage for repeated tragedies. Most of these horrific massacres are, after all, brought about by people who are totally bonkers.