San Jose Case Shows How Mentally Ill Can Languish In Jail


Felony charges will be dropped today against Steven Chesser, a mentally ill San Jose, Ca., man who was jailed almost two months ago for cashing bogus lottery checks he’d received from con artists — checks he couldn’t understand were counterfeit, says the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s a tragic case,” said prosecutor Jay Boyarsky. “This was a perfect storm in terms of what can happen when someone who’s mentally ill gets caught up in the system,” Boyarsky said. Cheser, 51, has the mind of a 12-year-old.

Advocates for the mentally ill say the case shows how unprepared the criminal justice system is to deal with people who have mental disabilities, as well as how easily such people can be victimized by scammers. “The system is broken,” said Grace McAndrews of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “It doesn’t work. There’s no reason for a person who’s mentally ill to sit in jail for two months. It’s cruel and it’s inhumane.”


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