One year ago, the “Chinatown murders” led coverage in New York newspapers. Four homeless men were beaten to death one night in early October 2019, allegedly by a man with mental illness and a long experience cycling through the homelessness and criminal-justice systems.
It was tragic and outrageous. Yet a year later, nothing has changed.
Joshua Diaz, another mentally ill man with a lengthy rap sheet, was arrested last month and is suspected of pushing a New Jersey woman off a subway platform.
New Yorkers are so inured to evidence of mental-health dysfunction that they’re probably unaware of just how many advantages the city has on that front. As my late colleague DJ Jaffe used to say, “On paper, New York has the best mental- health-care system in the nation.”
It has wealth. The city raised (pre-COVID) more than $13 billion in income taxes annually, about half of which came from the 70,000 or so filers earning $500,000 or more.
These funds and others from many additional revenue sources support a wide range of “community services” that advocates always argue are key to stabilizing the mentally ill.
To divert mentally ill people from jail, New York has one of the most robust networks of alternatives to incarceration programs of any city in the nation.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal.
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