This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
Almost never have we devoted this space to a subject we covered just a day earlier.
But almost never have we run an op-ed like the one you’ll find on the opposite page, by Reno and Jennifer Sorensen. They are, respectively, the brother and mother of Laura K. Sorensen, the young woman accused of shooting three customers in a store near Wauna on Saturday.
They tell a story that ought to be mandatory reading for every lawmaker in Washington. Every lawmaker in the country, for that matter.
Our focus Tuesday was the folly of underfunding treatment for the severely mentally ill and imagining they’ll get by unsupervised, untreated or unhospitalized. Left to themselves, they inevitably wind up in some kind of trouble.
Many are preyed upon. Many wind up in jail after committing offenses they wouldn’t have committed had they gotten the care they needed.
Jail is no substitute for a functioning, accessible mental health care system – the kind of system that might help disturbed souls before they act on delusions, fear and anger. Jail is no place for someone whose fundamental problem is schizophrenia, paranoia or some other psychosis.
They don’t heal there. Many jails – including Pierce County’s – can’t afford and don’t have full-time psychiatrists. Jail staffs can’t require psychotic inmates to take medications. The atmosphere and sheer stress of incarceration work against recovery.
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