Why it’s a problem: The New York Times is fearmongering again. This article is just a slight variation of one that came out exactly a month ago, scapegoating unhoused people and people with mental illness, and by the same staff writers no less, but it’s important for The Times to bang that war drum against marginalized people. The most voted up comment in the comment section is about the failures of deinstitutionalization, which tells you what readers are perceiving as the main takeaway from the article.

What’s really fascinating about this type of reporting is how liberal readers usually claim to be all about the science, but when it comes to rooting for stories that demonize their favorite marginalized groups, all science and reason suddenly goes out the window and anecdotal “evidence” trumps statistics. Here, The New York Times is arguing for state-wide policy change — increasing the reach of Kendra’s Law for people with “severe mental illness,” based on crimes “committed by less than 2 percent of all people in the program.”

The authors mention that there were 380 total violent acts committed in New York state by people under Kendra’s Law in the past five years. Compare this to the 264,163 total violent crimes (even excluding robbery) committed in the state between 2017 and 2021 (the latest available data from the CDC). That’s less than 0.15% of all violent crime committed in New York by the people being put under the microscope in this article.

The questions we need to be asking are, why do some people refuse treatment if it’s purportedly so helpful? What do these interventions actually do to support people? Are people being abused in these systems?


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