Brooklyn Child Stabbings: We Need Better Treatment for the Mentally Ill
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Brooklyn Child Stabbings: We Need Better Treatment for the Mentally Ill


You’ve probably heard about the recent spate of scary child stabbings in New York City. If you haven’t, here’s the deal: A man was arrested recently for allegedly stabbing a six-year-old boy who died, as well as stabbing a seven-year-old girl who was critically injured. This all went down in a New York City public housing building that didn’t have security cameras.

A History of Violence

The attacker, Daniel St. Hubert, was paroled last month (May 23rd, to be specific) after serving five years of jail time for choking his mother with an electrical cord. He received therapy during his prison stint, and wasn’t deemed psychologically fit to stand trial for three years. While imprisoned, St. Hubert still acted out, but was starting to show signs of improvement.

Regardless, that mild sense of improvement seemed to fly out the window as soon as the clearly mentally ill man was released from prison. The case only serves to underscore the need for having better systems in place to judge whether inmates are truly psychologically ready to return to the world at large; as it stands, “the process of making sure they are fit to return to the community can be haphazard.” And that’s really just…not okay.

Kendra’s Law

New York does have more tools than other states, though. One of those is called Kendra’s Law, which “allows authorities to order people to receive outpatient treatment if they have a history of violence or repeated hospitalization and have rejected treatment in the past.” (The law was named after a woman who died when a schizophrenic man pushed her in front of a subway train.)

Still, sick people are clearly slipping through the cracks. State officials say about 3,500 inmates with mental illness are released from New York prisons each year, and treatment for those folks can range from intensive to nonexistent.

Better Protocol Still Needed

“Here is a person [St. Hubert] that has severe mental illness for many years, who tried to kill his own mother, who showed a propensity to violence,” said State Senator Catharine Young, a Republican who has pushed to expand treatment for the mentally ill. “Every single danger was present. And it’s hard to believe that no one followed up when he was released from prison.”

Yes, it’s hard to believe—but only slightly. Over the years, we’ve heard about dozens of instances of mentally ill people going on to do horrible crimes after slipping through the cracks, some even after having been already investigated by the police (see Eliot Rodger, Ariel Castro, Jaycee Dugard, more). Until we develop a better system and more tuned-in police protocols, the violence is only bound to continue.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.