* Two separate tragedies played out in The Times on Dec. 16 ("City to Pay $975,000 in Police Killing of Homeless Woman" and "Driver Who Killed 2 Children Given 2 Life Terms"). The family of Margaret Mitchell was awarded $975,000 for the shooting death of their mentally ill mother. And Steven Abrams, the schizophrenic who killed the children at the Costa Mesa preschool, received two life sentences.
Both tragedies could have been avoided if California's mental health laws had required that the protagonists receive involuntary treatment before the danger occurred. Previous reports indicate that Mitchell's family had desperately sought intervention for their gravely disabled mother before the police shot her. Abrams had been in and out of short-term hospitalizations and jails because of past dangerous behavior.
The current law governing involuntary treatment for mental illness does not allow people like Mitchell and Abrams to receive legally mandated, continual treatment and medication in the community. The rationale for this failure is civil rights and cost.
Abrams will now cost the state nearly a million dollars for his trial and incarceration. Mitchell's death nears or beats that expense for Los Angeles. As to civil rights, Mitchell and the little children, Sierra Soto and Brandon Wiener, are dead. There is nothing civil or right about that.
CARLA JACOBS, Board Member
* Of course the city (and therefore taxpayers--you and me) should pay dearly for the slaying of the mentally ill woman by the LAPD. But my question is to whom should we pay? Her family or to an organization that could help other unfortunate homeless people? These days I do not have much respect for the decisions of our judicial system.
Rolling Hills Estates