Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Another Shooting Spree

The New York Times reports on 6 deaths in the latest shooting spree, this one in Washington State. The shooter is described as a 28-year-old man with a history of mental illness.

State Department of Corrections officials identified the man as Isaac Zamora, 28, who had served a six-month Skagit County jail sentence for drug possession. Zamora was released Aug. 6 and was under community supervision by Corrections officers, spokesman Chad Lewis said.

Dennise Zamora, mother of the perpetrator, says she desperately tried to get help for her son. I imagine doing six months in county lock-up was the last thing Isaac needed, given his history of mental illness. The result: six dead including an understanding deputy who had tried to help the family.

The slain deputy was identified as Anne Jackson, 40, whom Mrs. Zamora described as a sympathetic figure who had tried to help the family in the past.

''She was very gracious,'' Dennise Zamora said. ''She knew exactly what we were going through, said her brother was going through some similar stuff.''

I say it's time to stop treating drug addicts and mentally ill people like criminals. Unless we want to start executing them at the first offense, we only make matters worse.

What's your opinion?


CNN reports a few more details.


  1. Mike,

    How do you want to treat mentally ill people? Wrap them in cotton and let them walk the streets? Mark them with a big sign so nobody does anything that can set them off?

    I am for getting as many people that can be safely on the streets, out living among everyone else where possible but there is a limit. The liberal trend of "mainstreaming" emptied thousands of facilities, turned out into homes and streets hundreds of thousand of people that can not, will not function in society safely. This appears to be another case of it.

    We are so concerned with the rights of the individual we loose sight of the rights of society. This is not a case of someone slightly different, but of proven serious mental illness, past convictions. And still the mom couldn't get anyone to commit this person to a facility; when the mom is saying "he's dangerous, he needs to be locked away" shouldn't we listen?

    As I've stated in the past, this is also another case of prison time probably not being sufficient. Remember, as in this case, most murderers don't start off with that crime. This guy had at least 1 previous conviction. It will be interesting to find out how long he was in prison.

    People don't want to keep criminals in jail, people don't want to keep the mentally ill in a facility; So what do we do?

  2. The plural of anecdote is not Data. But I'll play the game if it helps. I know several drug addicts, and alcoholics who are close to me. All of them are currently clean, several of them did some time in jail for various offenses.

    Some it doesn't help (As a general rule Prison is not an effective means of rehabilitation for ANYTHING...what prison IS good for is offering resources and incentive to inmates while protecting those who do no crime...some accept the resources, others don't, other take advantage of the system, and get incarcerated when they're cold and hungry)

    I'll leave it at that, as Bob did a fantastic job addressing the other issues

  3. Also this dude was not only inelegible to own a gun EVER, but was currently under parole.

    This is not the system's fault for locking him up, its the system's fault for not watching him close enugh...or maybe letting him out too soon.

    Also "Shooting Spree" isn't exactly a neutral or accurate title, Mike. You're better than that.

  4. Weer'd,

    You raise some good points, I want to make sure everyone understand where I'm coming from.

    I want the mentally ill to get the help they need.

    I want those addicted to get the help needed, if they want to get off their addiction.

    I want those guilty of crimes to have appropriate consequences to their actions. I don't think that the justification for an action should a reason for someone not having to answer for their actions, just possibly the extent of the consequence.

    I don't see any of these as mutually exclusive. I think that people who want to kick an addiction should get all the assistance they need. I think that society has gone too far in getting people released out of hospitals, homes, etc when they and their families are not able to take care of them.

    I'm just at a loose on how to proceed if people who need help won't get it and those who commit crimes because of or out of their illness/addiction can't be forced to get help.

  5. Weer'd, You're right "Another Shooting Spree" was not a very imaginative title for the post. How about, "Another poor bastard for whom the system once again proved so inadequate, that six lives were lost."

    Bob, I can't believe you're saying his six months in county was not long enough. As Weer'd said, and as I think common knowledge agrees, jail time does not work towards rehabilitation, except in very rare cases. And those cases have other explanations: people get involved in recovery programs or get religion. The criminal justice system does nothing more that keep these people away from society, which in some cases is great for everybody, but not for a guy like this, obviously.

    You hit the nail on the head with the question what do we do with addicts and alcoholics who are a danger to themselves and others and don't want help. That's one of the $64,000 questions in my book.

  6. Mike,

    I wrote that in the morning before his prison time was announced. I should have said it may be a case.

    I do think that prison time is supposed to do exactly what you say; keep people away from society. I hope that is enough to convince them to go straight but all too often it isn't.

    Also, at what point do we stop blaming the system? I know many folks who struggle with addiction. Funny thing is, most-almost all of them haven't gone out and killed 6 people.

    It may sound cold, but it appears this guy was able to function in society but chose not to. When do we say that, we- as a society, aren't responsible for each and every decision someone makes?