How Prison Guards Drove a Mentally Ill Inmate to Suicide

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Benjamin Van Zandt. Photo by Bethlehem Police Dept. Courtesy of The Daily Beast

Benjamin Van Zandt’s hellish odyssey through New York’s criminal justice system began when the voices inside his head compelled him to light a neighbor’s house on fire.

While the occupants of the house were away, and no one was hurt, the 17-year-old schizophrenic and psychotic depressive was prosecuted as an adult and sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in adult prison.

There he was raped, extorted, forced to mule drugs, sent to solitary confinement . . .

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