Diagnosing a Way Out of Jail Time

I’m doing research on mental health and reading “Is There No Place On Earth For Me?”, a book by Susan Sheehan. I picked it up because it gives an insider look at Creedmoor, a psychiatric hospital in Queens that I passed often on Grand Central Parkway as a child coming back from family visits in the Bronx and Queens.

Aside from main story, an insightful view of the system by following a patient, was an odd story of a New York police officer who shot a 15-year-old black boy in the head after the youth asked him a question. No threat. No gun. No argument. Just asked him a question.

At trial, a defense psychiatrist said the officer had a “psychomotor epilepsy” and had had a seizure during the unprovoked shooting. The officer was acquitted due to “mental disease or defect” and sent to Creedmoor. A year and half later, he was released because the psychiatrists treating him could find nothing wrong with him. Since they could only keep him if he was a danger to himself or others, they had little choice.

After being released, he also tried to get disability from the NYPD, which was denied.

It reminded me of a recent story when a psychologist suggested that a young, drunk man who killed four others might have psychological afflictions because he was too rich to tell right from wrong. He was dubbed the “affluenza teen.” He served two years.