Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Loughner Pleads Guilty - Life Without Parole

First I would like to say that this is the best thing for the families involved.  They are going to be spared a trial.  They can close this horrible chapter as best they can and get on with the healing process; both physically and emotionally.

That said, this makes me sad that he will be spending the rest of his life in jail without parole.  Obviously guilt isn't an issue.  He did it.  What makes me sad is the belief that putting severely mentally ill people in jail for life without parole is the right thing to do.
Dr. Christina Pietz, a forensic psychologist, told the judge Tuesday that Loughner is "one of the worst" mentally ill patients she's ever seen.
But she continued, adding that Loughner has shown improvement and he's no longer in restraints. "He is competent to proceed," Pietz told the court.
He's no longer hearing voices, and he has no difficulty in understanding, Pietz said. Loughner is rational and able to consult with his attorneys, she said.
In high school he was showing signs of his illness.  He became ostracized and began a journey into darkness that people without a mental illness don't usually understand.  See I do understand it.  I have a mental illness.  I began showing symptoms when I was 13 years old.  My life has been difficult at times.  I too lost friends, lost boyfriends, and lost jobs.  I don't have a psychotic illness like this young man has.  I don't hear voices.  But I do live virtually everyday in a funk.  It has been explained to me by three different doctors like this.  On a scale of one to ten most people will normally fall between a 6 to an 8.  I fall from a 4 to a 6.  So your down days are my good days.  I have tried all kinds of different medications.  Some work better than others.  But none can get me out that of funk.  I personally don't see the point in the medication most of the time, but I still take it.  Because it helps keeping me from going into jags where I can't get out of bed and just cry endlessly.  I have experienced thoughts of suicide.  Not just thoughts, but very well thought out plans.  Every so often I go back and read this journal of sorts that I kept during that time period.  It is bizarre.

But the point is, I was able to plan.  People have this completely ridiculous belief that if you plan something that means that you can't possibly be mentally ill.  Want to read my journals?  They are proof positive that can and you do plan when you are experiencing even the worst of your mental illness.  Very few suicides are not well thought out.  Just look at Mary Kennedy recently, she waited until her children were not around.  That wasn't an accident.  She did that because even though in her mind she thought her children would be better off without her, she didn't want them to find her.  You would be amazed about the steps that people will take in order to take their own lives.  It is rarely something that is spur of the moment.

Let us just get down to brass tacks here.  Mental illness costs us as a society billions of dollars every year.  We jail people, we feed them when they are homeless, they end up on disability or welfare.  Many are able to function quite well the majority of the time.  Sadly, some are not.  Especially when you start getting into the more serious illnesses like Loughner has.  He hears voices, he is paranoid, he believes people are trying to harm him.  They are trying to implant things into his brain.

It isn't like these people just wake up one day are in full-blown mental illness.  It creeps up on you more slowly than that.  At least to the person it is happening to.  I can't speak for being the person watching it.  My family falls into the stigma bunch.  To this day they don't admit that I have problems.  It is too shameful I guess for them.  My sister-in-law once told me that she is too busy to be depressed.  Gee, I pencil it in to my weekly planner.  I no longer speak to her.  I have a friend who once told me that she didn't understand it all and was much like my mother's attitude of "get over it" until someone she was close to went into a really bad down cycle of his bi-polar disorder and had to be hospitalized.  He is an attorney.  He is obviously well-educated and high functioning most of the time.  But if his meds go off for whatever reason bad things happen.  Luckily he never hurt anyone else.

Loughner and his victims were not so lucky.  All the red flags were there.  The warning signals should have been on full alert to his teachers. and yes to his parents.  Everyone decided to close their eyes to what was happening to this young man.  He didn't choose this illness.  Believe me, no one would.  Nor could I think of anyone that I hate enough that I would wish this upon.  The drugs you take make you sick.  They give you gastrointestinal issues at first.  You get headaches, weight gain, you sometimes can't sleep, or other times can't stay awake.  The drugs for Loughner are far worse than anything I have ever had to endure.

I just ask myself as a society do we really feel that locking away a young man who is obviously ill is the best course of action? I also ask what responsibility do the people who had to have seen what was happening and did nothing have?    We need to stop acting like mental illness is a dirty word.  It is an illness no different from high blood pressure or diabetes.  The person who has it can't help it.  It has nothing to do with behavioral factors.  They deserve help and in many cases they get nothing but ridicule, or worse get ignored.  Loughner lived in a state that he could have been hospitalized.  His teachers or parents could have gotten him in front of judge for at least a 48 hour hold, and then could have kept him as long as 30 days.  The same was true of the Virginia Tech  shooter.  In those 30 days they can get a course of meds started.  Hell, Andrea Yates was told two days before she killed her five children by a doctor she needed to think happy thoughts.  They knew she was ill.  But they wouldn't keep her in a hospital.  Five beautiful children are dead.  Was not spending the money to keep her hospitalized the best course of action?  I certainly don't think so.  I bet those kids would love to have a chance of life.  At least two were old enough to at least somewhat understand what their own mother was doing to them.  Think of the horror of that.

I was reading some of the comments across the internet today on this case.  Many were saying he should fry.  One conservative actually said since he isn't curable he should be killed.  My illness isn't curable, should I worry that someone is going to come after me as a pre-cautionary measure?   Gee, that puts us in the same company as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Nigeria for killing the mentally ill.  Boy that is company we should want to be in huh?

There are no easy answers.  But virtually every time one of these mass shooting happens, we later find out that they are mentally ill and were giving up signs of it all the over the place.  Isn't time we start listening?

1 comment:

net observer said...

Bravo, Queen Just! Edifying.

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