(Aug. 8, 2012) Thanks to involuntary psychiatric treatment in prison, Jared Lee Loughner was rendered sane enough to plead guilty today to 19 criminal counts stemming from his January 2011 shooting rampage outside an Arizona supermarket. He is expected to be sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, followed by 140 years in prison, with no possibility of parole.
How heartbreakingly ironic.
It took six people losing their lives and 12 more being forever wounded for Loughner to receive involuntary treatment. When all those people were alive and whole and Loughner was desperately and publicly ill, he was left to disintegrate without intervention.
Arizona has relentlessly and brutally eliminated crucial treatment for people with acute and chronic psychiatric diseases on grounds the state can’t afford to provide them.
Now taxpayers, insurers, families and others are on the hook for enough money to provide thousands of people who have severe mental illness with medication, assertive community teams, assisted outpatient treatment and other support they need but won't get.
Opponents of court-ordered treatment like to say they’re fighting to protect the liberty of those suffering from severe mental illness and anosognosia.
Loughner didn’t get treatment and now he has lost his liberty forever.
Opponents of court-ordered treatment say people have to choose their own treatment for it to work.
Loughner killed people when treatment was a matter of personal choice. When he received it involuntarily, his psychiatrist told the Arizona court, he cried and apologized for what he had done.
“He has become human,” she testified.
Human, behind bars for life and sane too late for his 18 victims and all the people whose lives they shared - a tragedy without end.
For excerpts from the courtroom testimony, read OnDeadline from USA Today.