The Corner

Politics & Policy

Preventable Violence in California

(Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

A homeless man named Peter Rocha is in San Francisco police custody after allegedly beating 94-year-old Leo Hainzl to death with a stick.

Hainzl, a refugee who fled Nazi-era persecution in Austria, was walking his dog near Glen Canyon Park when Rocha allegedly carried out the assault and killed the elderly man.

City supervisor Rafael Mandelman told a San Francisco news affiliate that Rocha “was clearly an unwell individual” who was previously the subject of several complaints:

We’ve been hearing from neighbors, he’s been out on the street threatening folks. They have called the police many, many times. Older folks felt very threatened in particular — older folks, kids — he had been a challenge in the neighborhood for some time, and the police had been out to talk to him, and, of course, offered him services on many occasions, and people knew he was suffering from mental illness. He was not taking his medication, but the police were not able to get him services, and nobody else was either.

Some advocates will say that this tragedy represents a failure to adequately fund “community mental-health programs,” but this sort of outcome is the natural conclusion of their aversion to involuntary commitment. Rocha was not, to our knowledge, denied “community-based services” due to a “lack of funding,” or turned away from “counseling” for his obvious mental illness. He instead refused treatment when offered by the police, and perhaps Rocha was unaware that he was sick at all.

Once he refused treatment, local authorities were effectively left without recourse to inpatient commitment, and Rocha was allowed to deteriorate to the point of violence.

Nearly 75 percent of California’s public psychiatric beds are filled by forensic patients, who have committed a crime and have been adjudicated not responsible by reason of insanity or mental defect. The state has neither the inpatient capacity nor the political will to involuntarily commit the seriously ill to state hospitals, and their revealed preference is to wait for the commission of a crime before taking such action. That preference can prove fatal, as it did for Leo Hainzl and countless others like him.

Most Popular

Culture

Thank You, Kanye West

It was “a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high.” So said Kanye West, who recently declared, via Twitter, that he was running for president, on the “Birthday Party” ticket. It’s about the best explanation I’ve heard for the non-coronavirus that plagues us. There’s ... Read More
Culture

Thank You, Kanye West

It was “a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high.” So said Kanye West, who recently declared, via Twitter, that he was running for president, on the “Birthday Party” ticket. It’s about the best explanation I’ve heard for the non-coronavirus that plagues us. There’s ... Read More
Science & Tech

The Ideological Corruption of Science

Why don't many people “trust the science” anymore? Perhaps because science, as an institution, has fallen prey to the same ideological infection that has invaded and corrupted many other institutions. But it is too rarely discussed, which is why a Sunday Wall Street Journal column by theoretical physicist ... Read More
Science & Tech

The Ideological Corruption of Science

Why don't many people “trust the science” anymore? Perhaps because science, as an institution, has fallen prey to the same ideological infection that has invaded and corrupted many other institutions. But it is too rarely discussed, which is why a Sunday Wall Street Journal column by theoretical physicist ... Read More
Education

The Case for Reopening Schools

On the menu today: My reader who is the head of research for a top-ten hospital weighs in on how to get kids back into classrooms safely this fall, a blathering Biden comment I missed that could have gotten his Twitter account suspended, and California’s state government tries to implement an ambitious ... Read More
Education

The Case for Reopening Schools

On the menu today: My reader who is the head of research for a top-ten hospital weighs in on how to get kids back into classrooms safely this fall, a blathering Biden comment I missed that could have gotten his Twitter account suspended, and California’s state government tries to implement an ambitious ... Read More
Science & Tech

Evaluating Fauci’s Record

The White House is getting a lot of heat by pointing out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease official, has a spottier record on predicting the course of pandemics than the media would have you believe. “White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in ... Read More
Science & Tech

Evaluating Fauci’s Record

The White House is getting a lot of heat by pointing out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease official, has a spottier record on predicting the course of pandemics than the media would have you believe. “White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in ... Read More
Culture

In Defense of Terry Crews

There are many worthy nominees for the craziest moment in the current cultural turmoil, but the controversy over tweets by actor Terry Crews deserves to be high on the list. In one of his offending tweets, Crews said on July 4: https://twitter.com/terrycrews/status/1279493774679261185?s=21 It wasn’t ... Read More
Culture

In Defense of Terry Crews

There are many worthy nominees for the craziest moment in the current cultural turmoil, but the controversy over tweets by actor Terry Crews deserves to be high on the list. In one of his offending tweets, Crews said on July 4: https://twitter.com/terrycrews/status/1279493774679261185?s=21 It wasn’t ... Read More
Elections

Could Trump Alienate His Base?

Back in 2013, two years before Donald Trump rolled down the escalator at Trump Tower to launch his presidential campaign, a group of political operatives met at a conservative conference in Palm Beach, Fla. Standing at the fringes of Republican politics, they aimed to thrust a populist insurgency into the ... Read More
Elections

Could Trump Alienate His Base?

Back in 2013, two years before Donald Trump rolled down the escalator at Trump Tower to launch his presidential campaign, a group of political operatives met at a conservative conference in Palm Beach, Fla. Standing at the fringes of Republican politics, they aimed to thrust a populist insurgency into the ... Read More