Mental illnesses becoming an epidemic in our community


By DR. ANGELA MOSES, Clinical Counselor | 6/19/2014, 12:36 p.m.

Perhaps our society’s greatest error is treating criminals who suffer from severe mental health disorders as identical or even comparable to others who are capable of controlling their impulses.

A week ago, the media moved quickly to populate the sketch of the man alleged to have fatally stabbed 6-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto and critically wounded 7-year-old Mikayla Capers in the elevator of a housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y. Fortunately, Daniel St. Hubert was taken into custody within a few days and charged with murder and assault.

As the public mourned the loss of innocent Prince and continues to be hopeful for Mikayla’s speedy recovery, we have learned more about the mental state of St. Hubert—a knife-wielding monster. The tragic elevator encounter between St. Hubert and the young children occurred just nine short days after St. Hubert was released from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Our penal system is built on the potential and continued hope for rehabilitation. However, St. Hubert is not solely marred by a criminal past. A schizophrenic, St. Hubert is also dealing with a mental disorder that causes him to be both a danger to himself and to the greater population.

Reports say that St. Hubert neither received proper medication nor psychiatric referrals while serving his five-year sentence for attempting to strangle his mother with an electrical cord. St. Hubert served time for a dangerous crime; and yet, his mental disorder went unchecked.

Our society must re-examine our penal system to ensure that rehabilitation not only includes remorse for one’s criminal act, but also a series of more in-depth mental health evaluations, which include long-term or lifelong residential treatment. And if they’re really eligible for release back into society, these individuals will need assistance, ensuring that their medication regiment is followed through daily. This will help prevent individuals suffering from serious, though treatable, disorders from becoming monsters in our communities. The truth is there are more St. Huberts walking our streets with no help in sight. This is a systematic problem that we must cry out against!

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