The Right to Treatment Protects All of Us

Twenty years after the closing of Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, thoughts on Parkland, Florida.

By Stuart J. Moskovitz

In 1966, Chief Judge Bazelon of the D.C. Appellate Court reviewed a lower court decision where the judge had said, “My jurisdiction is limited to determining whether [the patient] has recovered his sanity. I don’t think I have a right to consider whether he is getting enough treatment.”

Chief Judge Bazelon stated, “Absent treatment, the hospital is transformed into a penitentiary where one could be held indefinitely for no convicted offense.”

He then went on to note that in 1964 Congress had passed the Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill Act which provides, in part, “A person hospitalized in a public hospital for a mental illness shall, during his hospitalization, be entitled to medical and psychiatric care and treatment.”

He defined that requisite care by saying, “According to leading experts ‘psychiatric care and treatment’ includes not only the contacts with psychiatrists but also activities and contacts with the hospital staff designed to cure or improve the patient.”

In 1975 the Supreme Court ruled in O’Connor v. Donaldson that a state cannot constitutionally confine a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by themselves or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.

The case stands as a classic example of judicial action without regard to eventual consequences. It happens all of the time.

Eventually, like Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, institutions in which challenged individuals were supposed to be getting treatment, but weren’t, closed. Along the way, many people who needed care were either released, often by court order, or never admitted. That put people abused by the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital in even more dire straights.

Many people believe that the genesis of the serious homeless issue in America was not economic, not immigration, but the failure to address the serious issue of those individuals needing psychiatric care.

Many people unable to fend for themselves found their way permanently onto the streets.

While we have many cases requiring adequate psychiatric care, those cases resulted in less care, not more.

While the left argues that the unending string of mass murders requires that guns be removed from the people, and the right argues that we should arm everyone, including teachers, sales people, whatever, in order to present a bulwark against those who would improperly use weapons, what is most striking is that in virtually every case, the consistent factor is ignored by both sides. And so the carnage continues.

What we have in this country is a failure to recognize that there is a right to treatment. We need to recognize that this right to treatment must exist even against the will of the person needing that treatment. If a person is psychologically challenged, perhaps they are not the best person to decide if they need treatment.

We need to stop talking about guns. We need to recognize that you can’t drug depression and psychiatric imbalance out of existence. You cannot politicize it out of existence either. We need a national program establishing treatment of those who present as needing the treatment. In virtually every case of school shootings, mass murder, shopping center attacks, the underlying story is the person had previously presented as mentally unbalanced. The person needed care. The person needed treatment. The person needed not to be roaming freely in public without supervision or treatment.

Until we recognize the need to treat those who need treatment, the headlines will continue. They will cease when this society recognizes that the right to treatment protects the individuals and our society as a whole. Not incarceration. Not drugs. Not isolation. Not ignorance. Treatment.

It is long past time that the 1964 Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill Act was amended to deal with the climate and needs 54 years later.


Stuart J. Moskovitz, Esq, is a fomer mayor of Manalapan


Remains of the power plant at Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, October 6, 2017. Photo by Art Gallagher

Posted: February 15th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Guns, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

16 Comments on “The Right to Treatment Protects All of Us”

  1. John Kaye said at 4:56 pm on February 15th, 2018:

    Very well reasoned, Stu
    I could not agree with you more.
    These issues were before me for many years
    & your thoughts are the only logical way
    to go forward.

  2. Legalized Weed, they say. said at 5:49 pm on February 15th, 2018:

    Liberals need to be institutionalized, plain and simple. All of the problems with children shooting children, adults shooting children, children shooting adults, all of it is due to the lunacy and hypocrisy espoused by the liberal ideology.

    Let me sum up the liberal agenda this way:
    LEGALIZE WEED! Prohibition doesn’t work. A government ban on drugs doesn’t work. Restricting people’s access to drugs doesn’t work. A good, honest person who deals drugs is better than a criminal, murderous felon who deals drugs.

    These same liberal lunatics, who claim prohibition doesn’t work, then scream and yell “BAN GUNS!” Meanwhile, if they weren’t such lunatic hypocrites and actually believed the words coming out of their own mouths, they would say:
    LEGALIZE CONCEALED CARRY! Prohibition doesn’t work. A government ban on firearms doesn’t work. Restricting people’s access to firearms doesn’t work. A good, honest person who carries a firearm is better than a criminal, murderous felon who carries a firearm.

    The evidence that lunatic liberals point to on prohibition may be based on real statistics and real-world outcomes – but their blatant hypocrisy continues to ensure that good Americans are defenseless when a bad guy with a firearm appears in a place where firearms are prohibited.

    Beyond that, you have liberal parents in Connecticut trying to sue Bushmaster and other firearms manufacturers where the parents claim that “Bushmaster is responsible for the death of our children!” Meanwhile, you have liberal lunatic Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., saying that Congress “is responsible for the wave of school shootings that continue to plague the nation” – so how about these parents in Connecticut stop being hypocrites, and sue DEMOCRAT, liberal lunatic Senator Chris Murphy who is ADMITTING it is all his fault?

    There sure are crazy people out there, the good news is that they are easily identifiable; look for “Democrat” in their voter registration.

  3. Agreed, said at 11:01 pm on February 15th, 2018:

    am sick of the lib mentality that says the responsible citizens and taxpayers need to be punished, and forego their rights, when the evil and unbalanced among us are not dealt with properly. Look, we pay for all the social services, anyway: why can’t the liberal judges and the justice system stop being so lenient, giving too many extra “chances,” often releasing obviously repeat- offenders, sometimes illegal, or sick, or criminal individuals, who choose (or can’t help themselves,) to put others at risk? When do they actually present such a danger to themselves and others, that we finally realize they need to be institutionalized, away from the law- abiding public, and given all manner of services/ treatment/ training that could possibly create less recitivism and more productive citizens?
    It is time to get the mentally ill, addicted, or even able- bodied,but lazy, off the streets, and into modern, professional, secure treatment facilities, so that the populace is more safe. Political quick- fixes and same- old rhetoric aren’t going to fix our lost children, and broken society!

  4. Barry W. Johnson said at 12:10 pm on February 16th, 2018:

    Mayor Moskowitz makes a very strong case for right to treatment services, including that “right to treatment must exist even against the will of the person needing that treatment.” This approach is long overdue. Cooperation within communities among mental health providers, law enforcement, schools and others is what is sorely needed now. We must design practical, reasonable approaches that will prevent these horrible massacres in the future.

  5. Kalman Ventmore said at 1:32 pm on February 16th, 2018:

    “We need to stop talking about guns.”

    We need to stop hearing from the right-wing hypocrites that are owned by the NRA, like Chris Smith and you. The fact is that NO ONE needs an assault weapon for any purpose, so stop the baloney.

  6. Warnot Melendez said at 1:38 pm on February 16th, 2018:

    I see the blood of 17 dead Floridians dripping off of Moskovitz’s hands. One more liar who doesn’t want to talk about the automatic instruments of death being freely available to anyone. You really think this is what the Founders had in mind for the 2nd Amendment? And you can with a straight face call for better mental health care after YOUR Congress functionally destroyed government-funded medical treatment for all? How do you sleep at night?

  7. Ben Dickman said at 5:54 pm on February 16th, 2018:

    I’m putting my money where my mouth is , I own an AR-FiveSeven. It’s a caliber variant of the AR-15. I am a responsible, highly trained gun owner. However I do not need this rifle. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. This rifle is not a “tool” I have use for. A tool, by definition makes a job/work easier. Any “job” i can think of legally needing doing can be done better by a different firearm. I enjoyed shooting this rifle immensely but I don’t need it, I have other types I can shoot for the same enjoyment. I have surrendered this rifle to The Broward Sheriff at the Tamarac Post. I could have easily sold this rifle, but no person needs this. I will be the change I want to see in this world. If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example

  8. I wonder how said at 8:21 pm on February 17th, 2018:

    The liberal whiners and gun control nuts would feel if 40 bullets were aimed their way like in this situation.


    I bet you they would be thankful for the guy with the AR-15, eh?

    And while we are talking about “blood on Stuart’s hands,” how about the blood on the FBI’s hands as well of those in the community that allowed this to happen in Parkland Floriday. The school district had a policy of not reporting kids like Cruz to the police.


    This was a failure of the system and the community which could have stopped this. Yet Liberals want to penalize responsible gun owners while they hide from the real causes of mass murder like this and Newtown.

    BTW, in at least 4 other mass shootings, the FBI failed to follow up and could have prevented the shootings.

    Additionally, when the left talks about “blood on our hands,” they should look at their own house first regarding abortion.


    Evil can not be stopped. Do they want to take away knives too?


    Finally, there is no law that can stop evil. Evil will always find a way to get a gun or another weapon. BTW, Cruz apparently had been looking at a way to make a bomb. How do you stop that, eh?


    So, please spare us your rhetoric and look at reality.

  9. Liberal Poison said at 10:49 am on February 18th, 2018:

    Here’s the result of liberals normalizing drug usage:

    Here’s the result of liberals normalizing violent sex like in the movie 50 Shades of Grey:

    Here’s the result of liberals normalizing the acceptance of the mentally ill as a normal part of society like in “The Good Doctor” on TV:

    12-31-2017 NEW JERSEY LONG BRANCH <- MENTALLY ILL/"Autistic"
    10-01-2017 NEVADA LAS VEGAS <- MENTALLY ILL/"on anti-anxiety drugs"
    12-14-2012 NEWTOWN CONNECTICUT <- MENTALLY ILL/"Autistic"/Asperger Syndrome

    "How Do I sleep at night?"
    I sleep knowing that if a shooting starts around me then the police are just 10 minutes away, which means that if the shooting starts in my home, I have to defend my family and myself for 10 minutes and I trust nothing more than I trust my AR15, and a lot of target practice at the range, as the best tool for the job.

    Unfortunately it is no longer an "if" but a "when"; when a shooting starts while I'm at the mall, work, or school, then hopefully I said something nice to my family on my way out of the house because in the state of NJ, I'm defenseless against the likely mental ill, drug addicted, unemployed derelict who is shooting at everyone, and I sleep knowing the police will get there in time to at least cover my dead body before the TV crews arrive to make a show of it.

  10. Pourtland J. Margate said at 3:09 pm on February 21st, 2018:

    How do all you gun-loving red-blooded Americans explain the statistical reality that there are essentially zero gun deaths in other first world countries that have the same level of mental illness but virtually no privately owned military-type guns?

  11. Liberal Hypocrite said at 10:54 pm on February 21st, 2018:

    A liberal wants to talk about statistics, GREAT, lets dig right in!

    Statistics are based in math, lets start with some simple numbers. First, there are two (2) genders. In simple terms, there is Male, identified by having the sexual reproductive organs that could produce sperm cells and Female identified by having the sexual reproductive organs needed to produce egg cells. If we’re going to get into a talk about statistics, then liberals should understand, accept, and agree to acknowledge some universal basics otherwise we’re wasting our time. This isn’t just a jab at liberals, but I really think we have to be able to agree to some very obvious and real basics if we’re going to bring statistics into this conversation. If you’re not willing or able to accept this very basic and clear statistical reality, then I don’t think that you’ll have the mental capability to discuss or understand any other statistics.

    Moving on, now that we agree about the number of genders being equal to the number two and that those genders have very specific and real meanings, let us accept that if a male thinks they are a female, or a female thinks they are a male, then said person has a mental disorder, specifically an identity disorder, and that person needs mental help, and should not be allowed to own a firearm due to their mental illness. In addition to those people with the mental disorder that cause them to not understand their own gender, there are even more people who are enablers of the disease; supporting those with the disorder financially and mentally; for example, maybe you watch a TV show hosted by someone who has a mental disorder, or maybe you buy clothing designed or sold by someone with a mental disorder, you are an enabler contributing to the problem. The statistics here are not pretty, The United States has the highest rate of mental illness of any country, by far. What’s worse is that liberals tend to ignore mental disorders, and even worse, often embrace the people with mental disorders rather than quarantine them and get them the help they need. I’d urge you to pause and research mental health statistics and compare the statistics from the US to these other first world countries that you speak of, again, it’s not looking good here for USA.

    I would also like to address some other, never spoken about statistical differences between the United States of America and the “first world” countries that you reference. For example, let us point to the population of these United States, a whopping 323 million people; that’s a BIG number and might not include all of the criminals who are here illegally. Let’s skip the conversation about having criminal, illegal border crossers, in the country for now. Let us now compare that 32 million to the population of the UK, a lowly 65 million people. Now at this point, you probably think I’m going to talk about land area and population density, but those are more numbers and liberals won’t understand them, what I’ll point to instead is this, the Federal Government that “represents” all 323 million Americans, is made up of ONLY, at best if they all show up, 537 “representatives”. That is 435 members of the house, 100 senators, a vice president, and a president. You could claim some judges as well but you don’t even get to vote for them. Compare those 537 representative for 323 million people to the UK Parliament which nearly triples the number of representatives at 1442. That is a “representative” per about 45,000 people vs your “representative” here in the US who represents several hundred thousand people, around 600,000 or so each. And this is before we try to note the problem that a representative for NJ Congressional District 6 is supposed to represent Monmouth Beach, or Perth Amboy; see how one person can not possibly represent the average person in those two locations as we can find statistical differences in things like population density, salary, education levels, etc. We need MORE representatives in Congress, thousands more if you want actual representatives that can reflect the values and needs of 323 million people across the geographical area that is the United States, but you liberals ignore those statistics too and rely on a few dozen big cities to vote your way to force the whole state or nation to be mis-represented by liberal representatives. As a second example, just to demonstrate the statistics, France has about 66 million people and about 580 seats in their national assembly; that is as many representatives as we have with far less than 1/4 of the population.

    Let’s not even stop there and finally get to, aside from the prevalence of mental disorders in America, the second largest never spoken about factor that liberals will scream RACIST when I point out. The founders had it right, PROPERTY OWNERS should be the only people allowed to vote, in any district that they own property in none the less. Before you cry, lets note the statistics and compare the US to the other “first world” countries you speak of. Look at the low rate of home ownership in the US compared to other countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_home_ownership_rate we’re barely cracking 65%. That means that what you have is people with nothing to lose and only things to gain voting for representatives that raise taxes and provide handouts, it is a terrible cycle. Lets do a practice problem in NY for instance, 31% of the people own a home, the rest are renters. Let’s have a public vote now: Should we raise property taxes for property owners to fund NYCHA? YES: 69% / NO: 31% – STATISTICS! Because the non-property owners have nothing to lose. Rental rates are capped, rent increases are capped, tax increases are NOT capped. A “representative” might agree to raise property taxes by 10%, but that representative also restricts property owners from raising rents. This leads to animosity, coupled with all of that mental illness, and the criminal border crossers, you can see this won’t end well. Look at the statistics, there is direct correlation between the rate of decline of home ownership in Chicago: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/realestate/20160201/CRED0701/160129775/homeownership-dips-to-lowest-level-since-1999 vs the rise in crime during that same time: https://heyjackass.com/ It appears that as people, with increasing numbers of mental disorders, have less connection to their local community, and less connection to their local “representative”, they are clearly more likely to commit crimes. Allowing only property owners to vote would encourage more people to own homes, which gives people a purpose to work and be connected to and invested in their communities, a reason to watch where and how money is spent by their “representatives”, and a reason to make sure that good people represent them. And don’t forget to consider the statistics, the numbers of people who are completely disenfranchised in the current system; that is the property owners who can only vote in the one district they reside and register in. So if I own my home in Atlantic Highlands, and I own 10 properties that I rent to tenants in 10 different neighboring towns, I don’t even get a vote in the municipal elections in those towns, or the school elections – those towns might be in a different state or congressional district that makes laws impacting my properties, and I’m completely stripped of my ability and right to vote in those 10 towns. Liberal like to talk about disenfranchised voters because of voter ID laws or some perceived generic and baseless racism claim, but they never talk about the voters I’m describing.

    As a side bonus, I’ll add this note here for the sports associations of the world – this is why sport viewership is down. It’s not the kneeling, or commercials, or anything else you like to claim – its the lack of connection of players (representatives) to their communities. The “New York Yankees” aren’t kids from New York, they probably don’t even live there in the offseason, and will probably go play for another city next year. Again, with no connection, there is no care. If the players owned and lived locally, shopped local, were the local kids, spectators would care.

    But lets get back to those stats. Statistically it is easy to point to gun ownership rates and pretend that you pinpointed the problem. Isolate one statistic that no one denies and pretend it is the only statistic, but there are so many other factors that you liberals like to overlook to fit your narrative. Maybe you can’t comprehend more than one statistic, maybe you have a mental disorder, maybe you still can’t get past that basic 2 gender equation.

    So the simple answer to your question could have been: WRONG! There is not a single other “first world country” in the world with “the same level of mental illness” as the United States, we lead BY FAR and that is just diagnosed and reported mental illness cases – I’m certain there are as many non-reported people suffering mental illness, but I hope that you have read this comment with an open mind, and go on to a nice, liberal college to study statistics, get a good job, work hard, crunch a lot of important numbers, make a lot of money, embrace capitalism, afford to buy a firearm and a home of your own, and start voting Republican!

  12. Margate, again said at 4:40 pm on February 23rd, 2018:

    the difference between us is that you are a gasbag with hundreds of words but not one real statistic on mental illness. my numbers on the correlation between guns and gun deaths here and abroad are real and proven. and I seriously doubt that an advocate against universal suffrage is any other than another Russian bot, or perhaps among the HUGE population of mental freaks in America. always fun to chat with you stu.

  13. what about stats??? said at 6:08 pm on February 24th, 2018:

    You wanted to talk stats and now you’re running away from the facts on mental illness

    US leads the way:


    accepting mental illness is hard:

    people with mental disorders need help, they should not be at home with enabling parents and for sure not at a home where another family member stores firearms. adults and kids with mental illness should not be in schools or workplaces with those who do not suffer mental illness. Its hard to accept, but that is reality. Mentally ill people kill people, you are enabling that to continue by not accepting the facts about mental illness. sad.

  14. Margate, totally fed up by your BS said at 3:46 pm on February 26th, 2018:

    Don’t turn me over to some WHO website that provides raw stats and no methodology for meaningful comparison. There is nothing close to the disparities in your data to the clear data with respect to gun deaths. What’s hard to accept is your commitment to more mass school shootings in preference to taking any position not loved by the biggest right-wing idiots in the Nation, including your friends at the NRA. You deserve all the shame you deserve.

  15. Continued said at 3:50 pm on February 26th, 2018:

    Even your nutballs president is running away from the NRA. You’ll be the last American standing side-by-side with the worst and most death-loving lobby in the history of America.

  16. Furthermore... said at 3:55 pm on February 26th, 2018:

    Exactly what would the legislation look like that will accomplish your goal of forcing parents to institutionalize and isolate their children with emotional problems? On this, like choice, the republicans are for smaller government as long as a morals officer is deployed in every household in America. Your photo will be in Webster’s next to the word “hypocrite.”