How can we deal with anti-Asian hatred? Let’s start with therapy, not prison.


In 2015, I was attacked by a clearly endangered person, who later turned out to be targeting Asians.

Yet I still do not want my perpetrators to be imprisoned. Let me explain.

Anti-Asian hatred is a persistent and traumatic component of the Asian American experience, Ugly rhetoric by public figures And the COVID-19 pandemic has made this even worse. Sadly, people with mental illness can be vulnerable to such messages and may unwittingly deliver harsh words.

But imprisoning the perpetrators of this incident Violence has only been proven to create more crimeThose who cycle in and out of chaotic and violent killing systems are traumatized and destabilized, cut off from community support, and then rearrested for more serious crimes. In addition, people with pre-existing conditions become severely ill in prison, Some people who entered the system unconditionally suffer from mental illness.Naturally, our Prisons and prisons house more people with mental illness than mental hospitals.

For many of us who have been traumatized by violence, the most important things after getting over the initial shock are: If I met this person again, would it hurt me? like me, 75% of survivors Please know that we are much safer if those who have harmed us receive rigorous treatment and healing than being kept in a precarious cancerous environment until their prison term expires. At this time, their condition is deteriorating and they are more likely to reoffend.

The community in which I have served as a public defender for 29 years reflects the statistical reality that one in five people has a serious mental illness. As a mental health attorney who specializes in people with such diagnoses, I am skeptical of resorting to incarceration when it should address the underlying mental health concerns that draw someone into the criminal justice system in the first place. I have seen futility. Under the current system, there is no guarantee that victims of crime will not repeat our experiences.

Psychiatric diagnoses should be treated like any other medical diagnosis, but stigma and fear have led to overpolicing and criminalization of those exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Our default response to anyone experiencing a mental health emergency will contain them with consequences such as: Rather than seeking appropriate and effective means of healing and recovery regardless of whether a threat of harm exists, law enforcement agencies

Until we recognize that chronic instability leads to criminal involvement and that the cumulative effects of our missteps are harming the health of individuals and communities, we fail to protect public safety. will continue to Moreover, without prioritizing public health and legislating access to treatment, we miss a key opportunity to significantly reduce recidivism while addressing the roots of individual involvement in the criminal justice system. .

My own violent behavior by someone in need of mental health treatment reflects this. The man who suddenly pointed me in the middle of a busy street and hit me repeatedly with a heavy object had done the same thing to some Asian women in Manhattan. I later learned that he came from poverty, had a traumatic childhood, and was forced into foster care, which caused him even more harm. And like many people who go without treatment, his psychiatric diagnosis was well known during his multiple incarcerations, yet he slipped away without addressing his medical needs. went. He sought help, but he reportedly couldn’t afford the drugs prescribed to treat his severe mental illness. Tragically, he died by suicide without receiving treatment that would prevent violence in his community and allow him to live a healthy life.

When you ask victims of violent crime, they overwhelmingly support treatment over prison.we understand that Diversion has been shown to cut rearrest rates in half And people charged with violent crimes are just as likely to be successfully treated as anyone else.we Rejecting the myth that people with mental health problems are more violent than others Or they attribute most of the violent crimes. Rather, they are ten times more likely to be criminals. victim violent crime and only 3-5% of them. We believe that media depictions of people with psychiatric diagnoses who have been charged with violent crimes reflect people who have repeatedly experienced the trauma of previous incarceration, rather than treating mental illness. recognizing. We have learned that treatment is more effective and less costly than incarceration, increases employment rates, and even saves money that can be reinvested in the community.

in New York, Treatment that is not prison lawThis would legislate a mental health court and fairly address our mental health crisis and public safety concerns. Despite bipartisan public support, the bill remains on hold. New Yorkers must demand this bill be passed, and people in states without similar laws must urge lawmakers to enact these bills so healthy individuals and communities can keep everyone safe. should claim.

As a Filipino-American, I know the path out of anti-Asian hatred is complicated and requires acknowledging and openly addressing decades of xenophobic policies. But it is equally clear that imprisonment is not the answer, especially if the person accused of harm has unresolved mental health problems.

We cannot continue to deny the shameful history of racism and discrimination against marginalized people of color. The result is the current crisis of anti-Asian hate crimes amid the over-representation of people with mental illness in our nation’s criminal justice system. Intergenerational poverty, trauma, and institutional failures that have increased rather than improved inequalities in access to housing, education, employment and health care have let us all down. We cannot continue to imprison ourselves to escape hatred and violence. We must instead focus on solutions that make individuals more resilient to messages of hate and fear, because ensuring the health of our communities keeps us all safe. not.



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