You did a beautiful job covering this man’s tragic and brief life [Cover Story, “The Last Days of Daniel Linsinbigler,” Susan Cooper Eastman, July 2], and I hope he receives justice in a day and age where no state nationwide has a mental health care center with an A rating. In fact, Florida received grades C through F in four main categories on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 2009 survey.
My own cousin is schizophrenic, and I remember being outraged when the news media portrayed him as a homeless lunatic for their own purposes of higher ratings. My cousin had a psychotic break and ended up eating food naked in a home where he didn’t belong. He caused no physical harm to anyone. A news employee told me that their media outlet had no obligation to redact any of their callous statements when I educated them regarding his condition and asked for them to edit their online content to reflect accuracy. They did not.
There’s a book regarding mental illness in America called Mad in America by Robert Whitaker, and your descriptions of Lisinbigler’s treatment reminded me of some of the descriptive scenes in that book.
Mentally ill people don’t have the access to the help they need for fear of not being able to afford medication or fear of exposure to people who do not understand their condition is real even if it’s not outwardly evident.
The deputies who had such disregard for another human being’s life should be pepper-sprayed and have a TranZport Spit Hood placed over their own heads. Even that probably wouldn’t teach them empathy.
It may be true that caregivers become desensitized to the actions and outbursts of those they are meant to provide care to, but there is no excuse for the obscene treatment of the mentally ill in our nation or the state of Florida.
Compassion and empathy can only be derived from understanding, but many people only become human after someone they know is directly affected by an ailment or tragedy.
I’m outraged at the death of Daniel [“The Last Days of Daniel Linsinbigler”]. I did not know him, but my heart aches for him and his family. This could have been my eldest daughter, who was an addict and appeared mentally ill almost three years ago.
Daniel died as a result of ignorance from the deputies. The deputies often are cold-hearted and calloused, not understanding that many people go through mental illness and addiction in their lives. People make mistakes and everyone might have a chance at being arrested at some point in their lives. Again, I would like to see the officers and deputies trained how to treat everyone arrested with the utmost kindness and respect no matter what the person has done wrong.
My daughter was in pre-trial for 40 days! That was not a speedy trial, and she was treated inhumanely. At pre-trial in Downtown Jacksonville, the fluorescent lights are on all night, they can only change their underwear once per week, they do not get fresh air every day, nor do they get proper nutrition that include vegetables. My daughter has told me many terrible stories that include a 76-year-old who was forced to sleep on the top bunk, and other inmates had to assist her up to the bunk; also, a pregnant lady was Tasered!
My daughter has now been free for the last few years, and she is no longer an addict or mentally ill. She has straight A’s in college, has been employee of the month twice, and is a healthy beautiful young lady. Her family and friends believed in her. People can change for the better, and instead of deputies despising their intakes as horrible criminals, they should have the perspective that people made a mistake and as humans have the possibility of making great changes in their lives. A good place to start would be for the public to have the philosophy that we treat others with kindness, and that those who are arrested deserve to have human rights. I would like to see all jails as social learning institutions.
This is such a tragic story [“The Last Days of Daniel Linsinbigler”]. Thank you for writing it. Wow.
Maria Coppola Cummins, via Facebook