Last week, we published a letter to the editor, titled "Heroic act of jornalism," written by Julia and Stanley Stanert, whom we mistakenly referred to as "Julia and Stanley Stanertber." That was an editing error, and we're terribly sorry.
There are (hard) solutions
Thank you for writing about the struggles of the mentally ill who are trapped in the criminal justice system [Cover story, Aug. 27]. The narrative gives a good description of the anguish and frustration that families face with adult children with serious mental illness.
I went through this in 1996 with a sister who failed a murder-suicide attempt by overdosing her then 7-year-old daughter. The daughter survived. She's 25 now. The mother was very, very lucky. She was arraigned on attempted-murder charges and ultimately pled out to felony child abuse with formal probation. I spent a lot of time at Las Colinas; I spent a lot of time in the court room: criminal, civil, family and probate court. So, I have some standing to comment on this article.
The problem with the article as I see it is that you make it sound like that there are no resources or recourse for the parents of young adults when, in fact, there are:
1. NAMI-San Diego (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an invaluable resource to the mentally ill and their families. NAMI's family-to-family and peer-to-peer classes, among many others, do an incredible job of educating people on mental illness and solutions to problems like the ones discussed in your article.
2. Probate conservatorship: There is legal recourse for families to protect young adults. It's not easy, and it's complicated. While it's almost always best to consult with a private attorney on establishing a conservatorship, it is possible to do it yourself.
The value of a probate conservatorship is that it establishes protections for your adult child or family member. In our case, the prosecuting attorney was very much aware that there was a family who gave a damn, who was educated about court proceedings and, from their perspective, served as a mitigating factor in terms of public safety.
You might want to write a companion piece about alternative solutions and strategies for coping with an adult child with mental illness. The court system isn't just a place to adjudicate criminals or the mentally ill who commit criminal acts, it's also there to meet the needs of society, the public and private parties (plaintiffs, petitioners) to find solutions to everyday problems such as mental illness.
The most important thing I ever did in my life (so far) is advocate for my sister for more than 10 years. I exerted enormous effort and finally succeeded in finding mental-healthcare services that would stabilize her situation. With that combination of care, ultimately she was med-compliant. Most importantly, she was no longer suicidal.
Unfortunately, she believes that the conservatorship had a detrimental effect in all of the court proceedings. In fact, it's what saved her from a seven-year prison sentence. The conservatorship saved her life.
There are solutions. The consumer has to do the work and advocate for their adult child. Nothing about it is easy. They need to be pro-active in the process and be persistent.
Elaine M. Northcutt, Spring Valley
Wanted: wage debate
To begin with, congratulations on a well-written editorial, "Don't sign the anti-minimum-wage petition" [Aug. 27]. It included appropriate facts and related numbers that are not always present in editorials.
In regard to signature collectors who do not tell the truth, something should be done, as 95 percent of the people who sign these petitions do not read them. How about nullifying existing signatures upon proving that a signature gatherer is communicating false information. That signature collector would then be banned from collecting subsequent signatures.
In general, I'm for raising the minimum wage. I believe that 95 percent of the raise will filter back into the economy, and it will benefit everyone. When people don't earn enough money to live on, the government (we) pay for their necessities—food stamps, Medicaid and housing. Therefore, employers who pay low wages are being subsidized by the government (us).
And most important of all, working people who are struggling will be able to improve their lives.
Since this decision may have major economic impacts for everyone, it makes sense that everyone votes on it. There should be discussions and debates—pro and con. If the petition passes, these debates and discussions should commence immediately. The real problem to me is that it will take more than a year to vote on the issue if the petition passes.
Ronald Harris, Scripps Ranch
Editor's Note: It was announced last Thursday that the forces wanting to put a minimum-wage referendum on the ballot were indeed able to collect enough valid signatures. The ballot measure is scheduled for June 2016.
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