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A Woman in Need of 'Proper Care'

June 09, 2002

Thanks so much for the very balanced view of the difficulties faced by our community in dealing with seriously mentally ill people ("Prelude to a Death," by Paul Teetor, May 5). The information presented was realistic and at the same time considered the rights and interests of someone with a psychiatric disability and her family members. Another sad but true aspect of mental illness is the "board and care" system that offers living quarters for people with disabilities who are not completely independent and whose families are unable to continue caring for them. Thanks again for the great story.

Carol Simpson

Via the Internet

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This was not a hate crime! I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and know that what happened to Marie Elise West had nothing to do with racial hatred. It had to do with messed-up brain chemicals. I hope people will read Teetor's article and realize that the person she hit could have been white, African American or Asian, and it wouldn't have made one bit of difference. In fact, her delusional thinking may have led her to believe the person was a Martian. The fact is that she did vehicular manslaughter, whether accidental or otherwise remains to be seen, which is in itself terrible enough. To call it a hate crime would be laughable if it weren't such a serious accusation against a woman whose inability to recognize that she needs medication to control a serious illness cost the life of another human being.

Andrea Pulcini

Via the Internet

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What a tragic saga of a young woman being betrayed by our society. Our Legislature passes hundreds of bills a year satisfying the whims of effective lobbying. Where is the ACLU and other groups that are forever lobbying on behalf of the downtrodden in our society? If there was ever a person in need of effective advocacy, it is Marie Elise West. We always hear about the rights of the individual being upheld; what about West's rights to proper representation as an extremely ill woman who needs protection from eager, politically motivated public servants? This woman needs compassion, understanding and proper medical care--not condemnation from a system that has thus far failed her.

Josephine Guilino

Sacramento

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