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On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Man on the Run

Uploaded: Mar 17, 2015
When a tattooed, shaggy-haired thirtysomething knocked, then pounded, on their door my Palo Alto friends wanted to call the police. But the menacing figure on their porch turned out to be their nephew. Fresh from two years in prison, including a brief stint at San Quentin, Jimmy needed a place to stay. His bewildered aunt and uncle opened the door to him...and a disturbing chapter in their lives.

Paroled from his fifth DUI (that is correct), Jimmy had tried going 'home' to Saratoga. He didn't know that his parents had just moved to Arizona. His aunt and uncle offered a guest bedroom, but Jimmy didn't sleep. He wandered around all night, talking to himself. Next morning he demanded to know why his picture wasn't on the mantel. He insisted that his aunt's laptop belonged to him. Where was his money? He had some around, someplace....

It developed that Jimmy's imminent release had spurred his parents' move to Arizona. He had a violent history. Jimmy had punched out a Saratoga neighbor, assaulted his father and generally scared those around him. His stay with his aunt and uncle was short-lived. A trip to the family's seaside cabin failed to calm Jimmy.

The uncle met with a parole officer. His nephew had to go. Go where, the parole officer asked.

This was a good question. And the answer...for all of us...is a scary one. Jimmy's parents had already spent a fortune trying to get him treated. They had settled a lawsuit over his violence. They had run out of options. Public mental health services are scant. The parole system is overstretched. Everyone had tried. Yet everyone wasn't enough.

What is the answer?
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Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Mar 20, 2015 at 6:59 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

The answer is we go back to the system we had before Pat Brown and Ronal Reagan emptied the asylums. Schizophrenia among other mental illnesses is not curable. It can be treated with meds but not cured. The person stops taking their meds and their schizophrenia returns. They usually stop taking their meds. The only way to protect society and those who are incurably mentally ill is to put them in a place where they can't harm others or themselves.

I can tell you from experience it would take about 50% of the homeless off the streets.


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