November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving roundup

Brandon McInerney
Gay panic defendant gets 21 years

The gay panic case of Brandon McInerney that we’ve been tracking here since 2008 is finally over. The defendant, who was 14 when he shot and killed classmate Larry King, agreed to a 21-year prison term after a jury deadlocked in his murder trial two months ago.

"The missing militant" pleads no contest

Ronald Bridgeforth
Ronald Bridgeforth, the man I blogged about a couple of weeks ago who spent 43 years underground before deciding to turn himself in, pleaded no contest yesterday to a 1968 charge of assault on a police officer. His sentencing is set for February. For those of you who are interested in his fascinating life, I recommend a profile (HERE) by Laura Rena Murray in Tuesday's San Francisco Chronicle. As Bridgeforth put it, "Not being in jail is not the same as being free."

From Australia: Prolonged detention and mental health

An investigative journalism program in Australia has aired a remarkable documentary on the psychiatric effects of lengthy detention of asylum seekers. ABC’s Four Corners obtained rare footage of conditions in facilities that are typically kept out of sight and out of mind. The show portrays rampant self-mutilation, suicide and psychotic decompensation among Australia's 4,000 incarcerated asylum seekers. "I have only seen darkness in life and a dark future ahead," explains a young Iranian man who has just tried to hang himself after the third rejection of his immigration petition. In a secretly filmed interview, a psychiatric nurse states that suicide attempts and grotesque self-mutilations are daily occurrences, with as many as 30 detainees at a time on one-to-one suicide watch at her facility alone. Psychiatric staff are shown responding to the overwhelming despair by overprescribing sedating medications. Dr. Suresh Sundram of the Mental Health Research Institute describes the detention sites as factories for producing mental illness, especially for detainees who are held for lengthy periods and those who have undergone torture and other traumas before fleeing their homelands. Click below to watch the 45-minute video, which is relevant not only in Australia but other countries around the world with similar immigration issues.

Juveniles: Lifelong benefits of multisystemic therapy 

In a study that's getting a bit of buzz around the Web, a researcher has found that Multisystemic Therapy's positive effects on juvenile delinquents extend for decades. An average of 22 years later, youths who were randomly selected for MST treatment had significantly fewer arrests and family problems than those who got traditional individual therapy. MST, developed by study co-author Charles Borduin of the University of Missouri, has become one of the most widely used evidence-based treatments in the world. It owes its success to the fact that it involves the offender's entire family and community, whereas traditional therapy targets only the offender without modifying his problematic environment. The new study is published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The Abstract is HERE; a press release summarizing the findings is HERE.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo (c) Karen Franklin 2011
And finally, if you're reading this in the comfort of your warm and cozy home or office, you can be thankful you're not at the bottom of the 99 percent, living in a plywood shack being torn down just in time for the rainy season. That's the plight of the folks in one of the many homeless encampments near where I walk.

I wish all of you readers and subscribers a nice holiday. 

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