PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three people have been charged following the discovery of four malnourished mentally disabled adults chained to a boiler in a locked northeast Philadelphia basement room that was too small for an adult to stand up straight and also reeked of waste from the buckets they used to relieve themselves, police said Sunday.
Officers were investigating a report of squatters in a building Saturday when they found three men and a woman in a 15-by-15-foot room behind a steel door that was chained shut. The subbasement room they were in called to mind a Cold War-era bomb shelter and contained a makeshift bed, mattress and sheets, said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman.
Now, the good news is they plan to throw the book at these guys, and aren't the least bit apologetic about their disgust. False imprisonment, kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy are certain, and federal charges may follow. Given the nature of their disabilities, the victims aren't able to supply a lot of details. Exploiting those so defenseless really pisses me off. I hope they stack the hell out of the charges, and when these soulless people finally meet their punishment I'll be blogging it here for everyone to celebrate.
My local paper ran a pretty good piece about the homeless and mentally ill in my neck of the woods. It's happening everywhere of course, and leads to situations like the one above. The mentally ill are often put in jail and mixed in with dangerous criminals. It costs far less to house them in jail than the hospital environment that keeps them safe and protected. Without their expensive meds, they are wild cards who find themselves wherever impulse brings them. They are locked up and supervised by people who are not trained in how to care for them. There is an endless cycle that often includes substance abuse, nonstop exposure to criminals and surviving the elements when programs go broke, housing dries up and follow-up care is nonexistent.
Winter is coming, and because there are some wooded areas near us homeless camps crop up. Every year people freeze to death and the occasional in-camp murder reminds us that there are people behind the trees. They live off the grid and nobody reports them missing when they fall prey, because they were missing in the first place.
We're about to have to make hard choices as a country. We are going to have to absorb a lot back onto ourselves that had been funded in times of prosperity. We cannot forget these people when we prioritize. They have few to speak on their behalf, and they are made up of the vulnerable and the impaired. They deserve our care and our best efforts, and we all have opportunities to do better for them. When you see your opportunity, please don't pass it up.