Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Prison Time Is No Substitute for Psychiatric Care

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Prison Time Is No Substitute for Psychiatric Care

Article excerpt

I was appalled to learn Leon Walls, the man guilty of stabbing several people at the East Liberty Target, was sentenced to serve a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in state prison. Walls displays symptoms of schizophrenia. Because of a legal clause stating "treatment is required only consistent with available resources," he will go to prison instead of to a state mental hospital ("Treatment Unavailable for Mentally Ill Convict," Aug. 16).

Recently I spoke with a nurse who worked at Woodville State Mental Hospital. She shared two disturbing stories regarding the outcome of two long-term residents after Woodville closed. One gentleman found reluctant placement with family members but committed suicide. The second man became homeless, succumbed to frostbite, had bilateral leg amputations and ended up in a nursing home.

It is unacceptable that Pennsylvania lacks available resources to treat the mentally ill. It is a disservice to the patients, the families and the community at large. A prison is not a hospital. Guards are not psychiatric nurses, and wardens are not psychiatrists. Patients with mental illness need to be safe and need to receive proper treatment as with any other illness.

Perhaps Allegheny Health Network or UPMC could invest money into building a much-needed longer-term care facility to treat the mentally ill.

JUDITH MAGGIO, R.N.

Dormont

We need Biden

There is one very important characteristic that is crucial to the success of any president. That is the ability to work with Congress in passing meaningful legislation. None of the current candidates have discussed how effective they would be in that area, and for good reason. They don't have a record that would support such a claim. The one person who has a record of being very effective in this area has not entered the race at this point. That person is Joe Biden.

He is by far the most qualified person of any running or considering running. Not only has he proved himself in this area, but he is also a man of impeccable ethics. While in the Senate, he was voted by his colleagues as the most knowledgeable senator, Democrat or Republican, in the area of foreign affairs.

My entire life I've heard people say, "Just give me a president who will say what he really thinks." It's one thing to say what you think and alienate the opposition. It's quite another to do it and keep people's respect so they will work with you.

Please run, Mr. Vice President. The country needs you.

TOM COOK

White Oak

GOP asked for this

So Donald Trump is still leading the polls in the Republican primary. Sweet, poetic justice!

For years, mainstream Republicans have taken advantage of right- wing big-mouths like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who gain money and fame spewing hate-filled, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti- intellectual commentary. …

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