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Make involuntary psychiatric commitments easier — and save lives in the process | READER COMMENTARY

A pile of rubble is all that remains of the Parkview Crossing townhome of Everton Brown in Woodlawn. Police shot and killed him earlier this month after he set fire to his townhome then shot four neighbors, killing three of them. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun).
A pile of rubble is all that remains of the Parkview Crossing townhome of Everton Brown in Woodlawn. Police shot and killed him earlier this month after he set fire to his townhome then shot four neighbors, killing three of them. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun). (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

The article dealing with the fact that the mental health law is flawed (“A Woodlawn man’s erratic behavior worried neighbors for years. Could something have been done before he killed 3 people?” May 16), states that “the killings are prompting questions about how Maryland handles cases of people who may be in a mental health crisis.” The law in Maryland for involuntary psychiatric commitment is among the strictest in the nation, and the judiciary system as well as other law enforcement agency tiptoe around it if possible.

But the keywords that define the overall problem of incarcerating someone are these: “the definition of who is dangerous enough to be forcibly hospitalized, have been opposed by critics worried about violating individual rights.” I wonder how they would deal with Everton Brown’s individual rights and those of the victims he killed?

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These people in mental health crises need to be placed in an institution where their problems can be dealt with while they are kept off the street. I seriously doubt, based on the history of his previous actions, that Mr. Brown would have accepted mental help willingly. And walking through the neighborhood waving a gun should have tipped off police that he was a very dangerous person.

Change the law, save lives and sorry if you upset individual rights activists.

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Stas Chrzanowski, Baltimore

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