Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Bit More About The Omaha Killer's Mental State

I wish that I could say that this was a failure of deinstitutionalization--like many of the other recent mass murder incidents--but it doesn't appear to be the case. Troubled, depressed, confused, but not by any stretch mentally ill. From the December 8, 2007 Idaho Statesman:
Prosecutors say Hawkins had been allowed to walk away from state-mandated care in the summer of 2006 - four years of treatment and counseling, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars - but not because he was prepared to face society on his own.

"There was really nothing more that we could offer him that he was willing to participate in," said Sandra Markley, Sarpy County's lead juvenile prosecutor.

Hawkins became a ward of the state through Sarpy County Juvenile Court in 2002, after a stay in a Missouri treatment facility for threatening to kill his stepmother.

"They invested a lot of time and effort," in Hawkins, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said of the state, courts and others who oversaw the troubled young man for four years, "and determined he's not going to respond."

"I suspect, maybe pessimistically, many people in the case thought at the time 'we'll see him again.' I hate to say that, but we do that every day."

The juvenile court system could have maintained oversight of Hawkins for nine more months because he hadn't yet turned 19 - that occurred last May. However prosecutors, defense lawyers and Hawkins' state-appointed guardians all agreed that wasn't worth it.

During his years as a state ward, Hawkins was diagnosed with depression, attention deficit disorder, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and a disorder characterized by negativity and hostility toward authority figures. He was convicted of third-degree assault and for offering to sell drugs at school.

Yet he did progress from residential treatment in a secure environment to a foster home and eventually to his father. And prosecutors say his criminal record while under court supervision wasn't remarkable.

If Hawkins had been suicidal and indicated that he might hurt someone, he could have been confined for a psychiatric evaluation.

"Unfortunately, we had no evidence that he presented a threat," Markley said.
Some problems, unfortunately, can only be solved by a willingness of victims to fight back. Since there is a definite copycat element to these crimes, I would suggest that for the next couple of weeks, if you have a concealed carry permit, it would be very wise to be armed when going shopping. The life you save may be your own, or that of your fellow shoppers.

And I would stay out of any malls that have "We're all victims here!" signs up, too.

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