The only safe place…

…for guys like Anders Breivik and Charles Manson is a cage — or a box.  Breivik is the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in a bombing, followed by a mass shooting, in Norway last July.  Manson of course is the “mastermind” of a series of murders in California in the 1960’s.

An initial psychological examination of Breivik concluded that he was schizophrenic and essentially not guilty by reason of insanity, but a subsequent examination has since found him to be sane.  It’ll be up to a panel of judges now to decide which expert’s opinion to believe, but Breivik reportedly agrees with the second opinion — he reportedly maintains that he knew precisely what he was doing.  The scary thing is that even if Breivik is found guilty of 77 murders, the maximum sentence under Norwegian law is…get this…21 years in prison…and he’s only 33 years old.  Apparently, there is a possibility that he could be kept incarcerated — either a correctional or a mental-health facility of some kind — beyond his fixed sentence, if he’s adjudged to be a continuing threat to Norwegian public safety, but it’s not guaranteed.

Now, I’d like to report that we’re a lot better at guaranteeing public safety here in the U.S., but guess what…Manson’s up for parole.  He’s not likely to get it, but technically, California’s thinking about it.  What?  Initially, Manson received a death sentence, but when California got rid of its death penalty for a period of time in the 1970’s, death sentences were commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.  So let’s get this straight:  First, we were going to execute somebody; then, we decided not to do that; so instead, we decided to hold the guy for a while and then think about letting him out.  Now that’s crazy.  As I said, you really probably don’t have to worry about Manson ever being back out on the streets with you, at least not anytime soon, but we shouldn’t be putting victims’ families through this angst every so many years.  There simply shouldn’t be any question.

[While I’m here, remember what I told you about Autism a few posts ago — about how I think it’s being grossly over-diagnosed, and as the authors of the DSM attempt to constrain this somewhat, that there’d be push-back from the “Autism industry”?  Well, since then, you may have noticed an almost-daily series of headlines, generated by a steady stream of press releases emanating from within the “Autism industry,” touting “groundbreaking” findings like the following:  Autism is supposedly associated with maternal obesity, paternal age, parental socioeconomic status….and the list goes on.  Pretty soon, your child will supposedly be “more likely to have an Autism-spectrum disorder” if you’ve ever consumed a beer, had the flu, or seen any violence on television.  In my opinion, this is becoming an almost-comical attempt to take a serious disorder which actually affects a relatively small number of children and “mainstream” it to the point where all parents think they see Autism symptoms in their kids, and just about any kid can be classified somewhere along the spectrum.  Once again, I think this kind of “junk science” just fuels “junk diagnoses” and ultimately does a huge disservice to America’s kids — the relative few whose symptoms actually fall within the Autism spectrum and deserve clinical attention, and the vast majority, who fall squarely within normal limits and don’t need to be labeled otherwise.]

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