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HomeOpinionsFailure of NYC Mental Health System Reflected in Harlem Subway Beating

Failure of NYC Mental Health System Reflected in Harlem Subway Beating

New Yorkers don’t yet have full details on the perp who brutally beat a 60-year-old woman at Harlem’s 116th Street station, but it already seems pretty clear he should not have been walking free.

The behavior shown in that viral video, seizing her cane to savagely strike her more than 50 times, to the point he broke it, is unhinged.

But around here the authorities only lock up such people after they’ve badly harmed others — if then.

Police have ID’d the perp as Norton Blake, 43, and say he has nine prior arrests, including for multiple assaults on cops, at least one while resisting arrest.

And the victim’s daughter said what all New Yorkers are thinking: “He needs help. He don’t belong on the street.”

Expect to learn his history (if any) of serious mental illness in the days ahead. But this fits the all-too-familiar pattern of individuals with chronic and untreated mental illness going off in the subways.

If he has cycled in and out of hospitals, jail and prison, Blake stands as another failure of our criminal-justice and mental-health systems.

Mayor Eric Adams has had some success in having the city involuntarily commit more mentally ill homeless people, but the law limits what the NYPD and courts can do — and the progressives who hold power in the Legislature and City Council like it that way.

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