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New York’s Mental Health Laws and the Justice System that Acts as an Enabler

by | Oct 14, 2021 | Assault

I was recently contacted by a woman who was assaulted on an “A” train on July 5, 2021, and had her nose broken, by mentally ill, Anthonia Egegbara, age 29. The District Attorney opted to prosecute the assailant with third-degree assault, one of many crimes that judges can no longer set bail on because of a controversial 2020 reform law.

You heard that right – in 2020, to cut down the jail population, New York eliminated cash bail for almost all offenses except violent felonies. Who thought this would be a good idea? As a result, Ms. Egegbara was put back on the street. Making this even more egregious, Ms. Egegbara has a history of violent assaults and has been institutionalized more than 50 times, according to her own family. Can anyone see a pattern of violence here?

Then last week, the she shoved a female straphanger into the side of a moving train as it pulled into Times Square. Now, a grand jury has charged her with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault and second-degree assault for the most recent incident. Ms. Egegbara is now being held at a mental health facility, and her lawyer said that her loved ones want her to get the proper care she needs.

Who Can We Blame, and What Can A Victim Do?

Which begs the question – who bears responsibility for the mentally ill? Is it the family? Her doctors? The police? The courts? Or the Mayor? I argue they all do. . .  and yet, nobody takes responsibility.

Nothing in Ms. Egegbera’s background could leave anybody thinking she wouldn’t commit another violent crime. Nonetheless, a liberal Mayor and liberal laws make it impossible to keep dangerous people off the streets and send a clear message to New Yorkers: “Nice, hard-working, rule abiding people have to fear being attacked by the mentally ill, because according to Bill de Blasio, “all lives matter.”” The pandemic was already forcing people to the suburbs and killing New York City real estate prices. Now the Mayor is advocating that New Yorkers stay in town, so they can live in fear.

I would argue that, in the case at hand, there are a series of potential, deep pocketed parties that could be named in a civil suit. These people could bear some financial responsibility to the victims of mentally ill people who are let out of jail over and over again so they can attack.

  • The Transit Authority – they have people working the trains – they take your money to use their subways – they should have staff on the tracks, enforcing safety
  • The psychiatrist, or hospital that lets the mentally ill back on the street, and says they aren’t a danger to themselves or others
  • The Court System – for not jailing or institutionalizing a dangerous felon
  • The Mayor
  • The Legislature

The Reality of Obtaining Success

In reality, these cases are tough. Making a connection and proving any of these parties is the proximate cause of the assault is very difficult. But, if enough people speak up – i.e., notify your politicians, vote, tell their story to newspapers and continue to work both with the DA and civil lawyers when these horrible assaults happen – then maybe change can be effectuated sooner than later. That’s just my opinion.

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