Health

Voices crying out in the wilderness: Infanticide declines after rising for two decades – Part 2

It would be wonderful if families and friends could handle the situation on their own. In an ideal world, they would have all of the answers. However, this is not an ideal world. It would be wonderful if families and friends could handle the situation on their own. In an ideal world, they would have all of the answers. However, this is not an ideal world.

The infinite issues of mental illness are far greater than just instability. As to the issue of culpability, how do we address the issues of moral blame-worthiness, cruel intent or intended malice when the person is mentally ill? But of course, that will be left up to the court system.

The irony is that the court system that will prosecute this case is also under the umbrella of the same system, Ramsey County, that the family alleges failed to assist Naomi. Is this a conflict of interest for the
County?

Our current prison system carries with it a history where those with mental health issues, especially the poor, were often imprisoned. Even today, the human services and justice systems don’t equally work for everyone. There are cultural, ethnic, economic and other issues that create barriers/disparities in terms of treatment. There is a virtual plethora of articles, scholarly reports and personal stories about persons who have not been able to get the treatment needed for mental health issues and tragic endings have resulted.

In looking at the “system” holistically, it includes (but is not limited to) the kin as well as the extended family, and the agencies that provide to assist them. However, sometimes there is a breakdown and parts of the system just don’t work. Does our current legal system make it possible for families to intervene in the affairs of adults? Is the healthcare system structured in a manner that allows for interventions? Is the human service system funded in a way that meets the needs of those with less than adequate resources? The answer is a resounding NO!

So, what are Ramsey County’s interests in the case of Naomi Gaines at this point? Before July 4, it was reported that she asked for help multiple times. However, was it just that her needs and the interests and bureaucracy of Ramsey County Human Services just didn’t match up? Now, how can her needs and those of Ramsey County work together for a solution and healing for the community?

In prosecuting a crime such as this, there are theories of punishment that define the possible interests of a government. According to Professor Steven Drizin of Northwestern University Law School, include utilitarian or retribution functions.

When punishment is utilitarian the goals include general deterrence, which is sending a message to society, or specific deterrence where the message is directed to one actor. The utilitarian view of punishment assumes all people are rational actors who will weigh probability of getting caught and punished with the value of the crime.

The anticipated end outcome is either rehabilitation or incapacitation. Rehabilitation methodologies often include therapy, moral healing, attempts at encouraging religion, etc. “fixing people and making them better” helps society by reducing the costs of crime. Incapacitation uses incarceration. This may include the perceived justified incarceration of an innocent person if it will prevent other people from committing the same crime!

Punishment as Retribution is punishment based on the crime itself. “Punishment is justified by the moral culpability of those who receive it.” If offender breaks the law he/she deserves to be punished and who are morally blameworthy.

Yet, how does this apply to the case of an individual who is mentally ill? How does the Insanity Plea work in this case?

All the fifty states of the United States of America have special statutes in their criminal law and correctional code that protect the mentally ill when they break the law and protect the community when mentally person is at risk for violence. The States of Idaho and Montana have abolishe

July 21, 2003
ABOUT INSIGHT NEWS
The Journal For Community News, Business and The Arts serving the African American community in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Available on news stands and online at insightnews.com.
INSIGHT NEWS

1815 Bryant Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411
insightnews.com
(612) 588-1313

ADVERTISING

Download our Media Kit (PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Newspaper Deadlines
-Classified: Ad inquiries due one week prior to run date Wednesday
-Display: Space reservation due one week prior to run date and material due Wednesday the week prior to run date.
-Insight News print edition is published weekly on Mondays

For more information call: 612.588.1313

CONVERSATiONS W/ AL MCFARLANE