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Sentencing the Mental Health System

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(Nov. 13, 2012) Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced last week to seven consecutive life sentences followed by 140 years for killing six people and wounding 13 during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January 2011. 

jared_loughnerThe sentencing hearing offered an opportunity for victims and survivors to address the court and Loughner. They took the stand one after another to describe the devastation that Loughner’s horrific acts had wrought in their lives.  

The first witness to testify was Patricia Maisch, who was 61 when she helped disarm Loughner and stop the shooting. Said Maisch: “That beautiful day, our mental health system failed us.” Other victims also “expressed anger at both Loughner and the health infrastructure that they felt should have prevented the massacre.” 

We share their outrage and sorrow.

Our wish for the victims is that Loughner’s sentencing following his guilty plea last summer brings a measure of closure.

Our hope for us all is that more people will begin to see that – whether it makes headlines news or unreported homelessness, incarceration, suicide, victimization or any of the sad results that too often follow non-treatment – untreated mental illness is a national tragedy that impacts everyone.

We need fewer occasions at which to grieve and rage over tragedies that could have been avoided. In the name of humanity to those who suffer disabling but treatable psychiatric diseases and for the welfare of those who live around them, we need to make treatment of those too ill to seek it for themselves a national priority.   

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