Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Slipping Through the Cracks

Recently a 63-year-old Vietnam Veteran was arrested for allegedly plotting to attack the largest mosque in North America. However, this is not the first time that Roger Stockham has had run-ins with the law. As a result of his undiagnosed mental illness,  Stockham kidnapped his son in 1979, escaped from a mental institution in 1981, and allegedly planted a pipe bomb at Reno Cannon International Airport in Nevada in 1985.

How has this man avoid being treated for the majority of his adult life? The one frightening fact is that he has repeatedly been caught in acts of violence and has even been institutionalized. He escaped the institution, yet there was no follow up or attempt to re-institutionalize him. 

There needs to be more governmental programs helping the mentally ill, especially those who are arrested. Stockham has been arrested on more than one occasion but still poses a threat to the public.  He should never have been released without being given psychiatric help. Furthermore, there needs to be more education within communities who would be able to spot certain characteristics in its members. This particular case is similar to the recent Arizona shootings.  Jared Loughner continuously went undiagnosed although there was apparent signs of mental illness. He went on to shoot and kill 6 people, while injuring 13 others. 

It is situations like these that could have been prevented if his community was more educated about looking out for mental illnesses. In the case of Stockham, it could have been prevented from the beginning in 1979.

-Lena Asfour
Photo of Roger Stockham by Dearborn Police/Associated Press

Read more on Roger Stockham here!

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