Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The problem won't go away just because no one wants to pay for the solution

Remember the 8 year-old boy accused of shooting his father and another man in Arizona last fall?  I blogged about it multiple times.  Well, sadly, his case is back in the news today.  He was supposed to be sentenced on Thursday, but it appears now that won't happen because the prosecutor and defense attorney have not been able to find any place willing to foot the bill for his care .  The plea agreement calls for intensive, and costly, psychiatric treatment, which no state or county agency is willing to pay for.

The state department of juvenile corrections can't afford it and doesn't know how to deal with a child that young.  The county's juvenile probation office would blow its entire annual budget if it took charge of the boy.  Here's my favorite passing the buck quote in the story:  "Even the county mental health consortium in the region refused to take on the case, calling it a behavioral issue and not a mental health issue."  How is this not a mental health issue?  Of course a 9 year-old boy who killed his father needs serious help from a mental health professional.

This situation is unacceptable.  Somebody, somewhere has to take charge here.  This boy has to go somewhere, be supervised and treated by someone.  And it's got to come out of someone's budget.  It's not a real live game of hot potato.  It's a little boy.  Ignoring the problem he presents is not an option. 

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