The Epidemic of Mentally Ill Homeless People in the U.S Should be Considered a National State of Emergency

NYC, SF, LA, Seattle, and other American cities have such outrageous levels of violent, mentally ill, homeless people on the streets that it should be declared as a National State of Emergency. I’ve traveled to 43+ countries, and nowhere have I been where it’s as bad in this regards as the U.S.

Yesterday yet another innocent Asian woman was senselessly murdered by a violent homeless street thug with three open cases and a history of violent crime – including sucker punching a 62 year old man in the face (who had to get 4 stitches) because the criminal who was selling illegal subway swipes saw him swipe a friend and considered that an infringement of his illegal “business”. This comes a week after another Asian woman was murdered by being pushed in front of the subway tracks in Times Square by another homeless mentally ill criminal, and in Seattle where an Asian woman’s skull was cracked after viciously being hit in the head from behind with a baseball bat by a cowardly homeless criminal thug with a long criminal history including first degree robbery and multiple counts of domestic abuse.

All of these deaths and attacks were preventable had we given these mentally ill criminals the appropriate treatment and/or taken them off the streets. And it’s not like last weeks attack are anything new, last year for example the wave of Asian hate crime was so bad that it got national attention, including a father who recently passed away after eight months on life support after being brutally attacked from behind and then repeatedly kicked and stomped on the head by a violent career criminal with 15 arrests, including multiple accounts of assault, and kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman. How many people have to die before we take a stand and finally do something about it?

In my personal experience, I lived in NYC for 5 years and saw firsthand the increase in the mentally ill homeless population. Thankfully I wasn’t the victim to any violent crime, but I witnessed numerous times these thugs trying to provoke fights with random pedestrians including my friends, and once to myself. And anyone who visits these cities will see countless insane people shouting at themselves and/or other people, and drug addicts injecting themselves in public.

SF, LA, and Seattle are somehow even worse. I remember my first time in San Francisco telling a friend that it felt like a giant mental institution had just shut down and kicked the patients out to the streets. He responded by telling me that that’s not incorrect because other cities ship their mental patients here.

Step one is actually acknowledging the severity of the problem. Saying a couple words of sympathy in honor of the victims does nothing to prevent thus happening again, change only happens through policy change and real meaningful action.

I’m no expert in mental health treatment or criminal justice, but here are some ideas:

  • Be tougher on violent crime. If someone randomly sucker punches a pedestrian in the face or even worse from behind unprovoked, then they should face harsh punishment, with harsher severity if the victim is obviously physically weaker (eg. a woman, old person, child). Prison, hard labor, and mental health treatment. They should not be allowed back on the streets until at an absolute minimum a mental health professional has deemed that they are no longer a threat to society. If after release they go back to committing violent crimes, then sentence them to 10+ years of hard labor. If mental health treatment doesn’t work, then nothing will, so these criminals should not be allowed back on the streets until there is indisputable evidence that they have reformed. It may sound harsh, but if it’s what is needed to save lives of their future victims, then so be it.
  • Jobs Guarantee – Anybody who wants a job, should be allowed to get one. Many people who read this will think “how wasteful”. And yes, it may be wasteful. But if it keeps street “hustlers” from robbery and useless fraudulent activity like “selling subway swipes”, who then sucker punching metrogers for swiping their friends because they’re offended at what they consider a loss of business, then perhaps employing these thugs in minimum wage cleaning jobs (ideally with some sort of career track) and the like is superior to the alternative of them being a societal menace, and the associated jadedness that goes with this.
  • Mental Health Treatment – No city should have mentally ill homeless people shouting to themselves. End of story. Put these people in institutions before they harm others.
  • End Homelessness – Nobody in a first world country should be homeless. At the least everyone should have a bed to sleep on, even if it means having to share a public bathroom.
  • Drug Rehabilitation

As part of this state of emergency, the easiest thing we can tweak in the short-term is being tougher on crime. Here are some suggestions:

  • ANY unprovoked violent attack on a stranger should be met with minimum 2 years of prison, owing a large financial debt (eg. $25k-100k+ depending on severity of crime) to the family, and then another debt to society to pay back one’s bills for wasting society’s resources on said rehabilitation. Until they pay back their debt, they should not be able to keep a dime beyond what is needed for basic survival. In order to ensure that they can make the payment, they can be guaranteed a minimum wage job by the government (note: jobs guarantee should be offered to all, not just criminals). Until they are deemed fit to return to society by mental health professionals, they should not be freed.
  • Any unprovoked random attack resulting in death should be met with minimum life in prison. Society does not need these violent criminals, period. There is NO excuse for attacking a random person unprovoked, and it should be enough to warrant removing said criminal from society. Maybe when these attacks become less prevalent we can be more lenient, but right now this is a state of emergency.
  • No violent criminal should be released from prison until deemed mentally fit with no chance of violent behavior by a mental health professional. Violent sociopaths with no remorse should not be allowed back in society.
  • Any violent criminal who after release from prison commits another unprovoked violent act should be sentenced to minimum 10 years in prison, along with owing a massive debt to the family and society, and no release until being cleared by multiple health professionals.
  • Any violent criminal who commits a third unprovoked violent act is sentenced to life in prison.

These punishments may sound harsh, but if they save one innocent life from being murdered, then they are justified. Currently punishment is a joke to the point where criminals can do whatever they want and basically not get locked up until someone is murdered. We need to start valuing the lives of innocent civilians over criminals, and start taking crime seriously and being proactive rather than simply reactive.

Of course long-term the real focus should be on effective rehabilitation, mental health treatment, and ensuring everyone is properly integrated in the community and can find a home or job if they desire.

Too many innocent pedestrians are being murdered due to the failure of our justice system and social institutions. It’s time to start taking this problem seriously and declaring it a national state of emergency. One preventable murder is one preventable murder too many.

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