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Mentally ill may need treatment, not punishment

This week I chose to confront the conflicting opinions regarding the appropriateness of treatment and/or punishment for mentally ill individuals who commit crimes (often serious ones).

The general population is concerned with public safety and often finds it difficult to accept the possibility that a mentally ill individual who commits a crime can be hospitalized and eventually discharged, sometimes after a relatively short time.

In some countries the options of incarceration and hospitalization are available in concert. The goal is to reach a balance between the right of the patient to treatment and the responsibility of the courts to ensure public safety. There is no easy solution to this dilemma.

The question of future risk can tip the scales in the direction of not releasing the patient from responsibility because of mental illness, even in situations when it might be appropriate. Some mentally ill individuals who do not receive appropriate treatment may eventually commit crimes that lead to involuntary hospitalization by court ruling.

Administratively, there is an option for mandatory conditional discharge and/or compulsory care following every court-ordered hospitalization. This operation would allow for closer follow-up and would enable rehospitalization in the event of deterioration of the mental state that could create a risk based on prior actions. Supporters of this option believe that discharge and transfer to the community should be gradual, with the aim to assist the patient when necessary and to protect the public.

A staggering number of the homeless show signs of moderate to severe mental illness and many have refused treatment or solutions offered by advocacy or medical groups. It should also be noted that among the general population, according to Harvard Health, one out of five adults have some form of mental illness. This includes depression, anxiety, attention deficit, obsessive-compulsive and many more that are not exclusively an indicator of lawlessness.

Next week, I will continue my discussion regarding the law in regard to various social issues.

Feb. 8. Suspicious: The caller reports a woman is harassing people again and believes the police and the offender are in cahoots as she always manages to be gone by the time officers arrive at 4:46 a.m. in the 700 block of Capri Drive.

Theft: The caller wants to report items stolen from a rental home at 6:06 p.m. in the 800 block of Seventh Street.

Thought for the day: The theft report is suspended when the caller is unable to confirm the items were taken.

Feb. 9. Suspicious vehicle: The vehicle is unoccupied, up on blocks and missing a tire at 2:02 a.m. in the 1900 block of Buchanan Boulevard.

Hit-and-run accident: The callers report several vehicles hit and the offending vehicle has left the area at 6 p.m. in the 200 block of Wyoming Street.

Thought for the day: The elderly male driver was listed as an endangered missing person. His insurance information was obtained, and he was reunited with his family.

Feb. 10. Suspicious: Officers are out with a subject sleeping on the sidewalk at 3:24 a.m. in the 900 block of Buchanan Boulevard.

Assist other department: Officers assist with an all-terrain vehicle accident that ends with the driver transported to a valley hospital at 12:35 p.m. in the area of mile marker 50 on U.S. Highway 95.

Thought for the day: This is the day for multiple accidents on the dry lake bed.

Feb. 11. Traffic: The driver is cited for going 82 mph in a 55 mph zone when he is finally stopped at 3:49 a.m. in the area of McDonald’s on Boulder City Parkway.

Family disturbance: The couple on the corner is having a verbal dispute that progresses to pushing and shoving at 9:45 p.m. in the area of New Mexico Street and Nevada Way.

Thought for the day: The lead-footed driver asks for a break because: 1) it is Sunday and 2) no officers work on Sunday — then promptly spits his chewing gum out the window.

Feb. 12. Burglary: Someone has broken in during the day, and several items have been taken at 5:49 p.m. in the 1100 block of Olmo Way.

Drunk: The intoxicated subject is cited and given a courtesy transport home at 7:55 p.m. in the area of Avenue G and Fifth Street.

Thought for the day: The burglar gained entry by breaking glass in the back of the residence. Watch for suspicious activity in your neighborhoods.

Feb. 13. Burglary: Sometime in the past three weeks someone has broken into an aircraft and taken a small flashlight at 10:01 a.m. in the area of the airport.

Threats: The caller asks for assistance after receiving multiple obscene and inappropriate questions at 9:54 p.m. in the 900 block of Adams Boulevard.

Thought for the day: Sometimes the damage done far exceeds the value of the items taken.

Feb. 14. Recovered stolen vehicle: Officers retrieve the unoccupied vehicle in a local parking lot at 7:06 a.m. in the 700 block of Capri Drive.

DUI: The driver is taking a well-deserved nap before finishing the alcoholic beverage resting in his lap at 2:05 a.m. in the 800 block of Nevada Way.

Thought for the day: After a little discussion, the inebriated subject gets to finish his nap in the Henderson City Jail (minus the beverage).

Call(s) of the week: Trespass: The juveniles are very surprised at the reception they receive after cursing out an adult, using inappropriate hand gestures, while smoking cigarettes. After being trespassed from the property, the offending teen was turned over to his not-so-happy parent at 4:41 p.m. Feb. 9 in the 800 block of Adams Boulevard.

Tina Ransom is a dispatcher with the Boulder City Police Department. She is coordinator of the Boulder City Citizen’s Academy.

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