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Politics // The Right Price
Larry Price

Can The Insane Ever Be Cured?

The man who stabbed two people on the Koko Head Stairs trail and was acquitted of attempted murder by reason of insanity will be allowed to take classes at Windward Community College.

Benjamin Davis was granted unsupervised release last week from the Hawaii State Hospital. He has been receiving treatment, and will now be allowed to leave the hospital two days a week for about four hours a day.

Judge Richard K. Perkins made the decision.

Because of the heinous nature of the crime, the interest in the case and the acquittal of attempted murder by reason of insanity, the moral outrage expressed by many citizens was both unfortunate and understandable at the same time.

“You have to believe in the institutional idea of mental health care to believe it is possible to cure any of the different types of insanity.”

The ruling by Judge Perkins is understandable because Davis’s unsupervised release was requested by state hospital staff. They testified that Davis has responded well to treatment, and with proper medication his rehabilitation is progressing on schedule.

This kind of news should have a silver lining for taxpayers. It is proof that the system works.

Of course, if Davis has a violent relapse, it will be a blow to the idea of institutionalized case for the mentally disturbed.

Once a patient is deemed innocent by reason of insanity, meaning he or she cannot reason between right and wrong, anyone committed to Hawaii State Hospital will be a ward of the state for life.

You have to believe in the institutional idea of mental health care to believe it is possible to cure any of the different types of insanity.

Wouldn’t it be great news if convicted felons sentenced to serve time in our state prison system could look forward to rehabilitation, to someday be able to have a productive life in society and enjoy a family life and put their past behind them?

Hopefully, the public will not be too hard on Judge Perkins for his decision to release Davis to attend classes two days a week.

But, really, if he hadn’t ruled in favor of the request, what would that say to the State Hospital? It would have been received as a show of no confidence in its ability to do what it was instituted to do.

If anything, Judge Perkins should be recognized for his courageous stand on a very sensitive issue and a champion of the idea of institutionalization for certain kinds of criminal offenders.

There is always a possibility that Davis may not make a full recovery or, worse, commit another heinous crime – and be acquitted by reason of insanity again. If that were to happen, the whole idea of institutional care for patients in Hawaii would be sent back to the dark ages.

By the same token, there is a possibility that Davis will continue to improve and be a model citizen one day.

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