A better law for North Carolina – Other Views – NewsObserver.com

RALEIGH — Last week a Cumberland County jury sentenced Abdullah El-Amin Shareef to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty. Shareef committed a senseless and terrible crime – in April 2004 he stole a city van, hit and injured three men, then ran over and killed another man, Lonel Bass. He stole Bass’ truck, hit yet another man, then crashed the truck and was arrested. All of these people were strangers to Shareef.

Why did this unthinkable event occur? Tragically, it happened because, just before the incident, Shareef had been turned away from a local mental health program, so his paranoid schizophrenia went untreated. Mental illness explains why, despite temperatures in the 40s, he was wearing only a T-shirt and underwear when he was arrested.

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