by Travis Mateer
If you are wondering why mentally ill homeless people don’t face the same kind of consequences for their criminal actions in Montana, you might want to listen to Matt Jennings, a Missoula County Attorney, because he has a scapegoat he would like to tell you about.
Here’s Jennings on KGVO helping out his boss, Kirsten Pabst, by telling the listening audience about those judges who don’t hold mentally ill homeless people accountable (emphasis mine):
If there is one topic that comes up more often than most when it comes to the criminal justice system, it is why the same names seem to be appearing in court accused of various crimes that are not being kept in jail.
We spoke to Missoula County Attorney’s Office Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings when he did the weekly crime report on Friday about why certain individuals are arrested and released rather than being incarcerated.
“I wish it was more unusual than it is,” began Jennings. “We have a lot of people in this community that commit crimes again and again and again. In fact, what we see is that there are really several hundred people in this community that are responsible for a vast majority of the crime. Most people are good and they’re going about their lives, being respectful of others, and not really breaking the law. However, we get the same people, and we call them frequent fliers or repeat offenders, and we do our best to make recommendations to the judges on what we think should be imposed as far as bail or conditions of release or whether they should be monitored. But ultimately, it’s always up to the judges on whether they hold somebody in jail or being released.”
Yep, it’s the judges fault, but simply blaming judges won’t make Jennings’ job any easier, so he continues providing excuses for mentally ill homeless people by reminding the audience they are HOMELESS and Montana just doesn’t have viable services to help them with their psychological struggles (emphasis mine):
Jennings proposed a possible solution to the problem of such repeat offenders, or ‘frequent fliers’.
“One of the things that we’re really lacking in our criminal justice system is sufficient help for people that are struggling with mental illnesses,” he said. “Right now, it’s basically jail or nothing because we often don’t have many opportunities to send somebody to (The Montana) State Hospital (in Warm Springs) for more than a day or two, and so we end up with a hole in our criminal justice system where some of the people that need help staying law abiding citizens don’t actually have services unless we put them in jail.”
Yep, Matt Jennings is absolutely correct that we, as a community, seriously lack adequate help for those struggling with mental illnesses, and it’s been that way for a VERY LONG TIME.
I am pretty knowledgeable about this issue, having worked at a homeless shelter in Missoula from 2008-2016, and I’ve been writing about Missoula’s LACK of services for those already here for a LONG time, like this post from February, 2016, titled Do Montana Kids Deserve A Soft Landing?
I wrote that post because Missoula do-gooders, like Mary Poole, are dangerously naive about local services, but that didn’t stop her from imposing her do-gooding dreams on this community, a dream that STILL requires media stories about needing MORE help for these traumatized people relocating to Missoula.
Just three days ago, for example, NBC Montana posted an article about many refugees dealing with trauma and the obstacles they are facing. From the link:
For refugees dealing with the effects of stress and adversity, resettlement agencies like the International Rescue Committee provide support.
“Some folks will come in and immediately request services, and some won’t need it for a few years until they feel fully safe, and their body has adjusted, and the trauma response has started to dissipate a little bit,” said Mackinley Gwinner, the mental health navigator for the IRC in Missoula, Montana.
Unlike Bahige’s adopted state of Wyoming, which has no refugee resettlement services, IRC Missoula has placed refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Ukraine in Montana in recent years. A major challenge in accessing mental health services in rural areas is that very few providers speak the languages of those countries.
When I read shit like this my blood boils because I’ve been raising the alarm FOR YEARS about this state’s lack of services, yet my warnings get ignored, and they get ignored while out-of-state political transplants like Danny Tenenbaum move here, get elected, then act HORRIFIED at the conditions inside the Warm Springs state hospital.
A Montana lawmaker shared his experience after an inside tour of the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.
State Rep. Danny Tenenbaum (D-Missoula), along with others toured the Spratt Unit, where elderly patients with dementia and severe mental illness are housed.
Man, fuck this guy. And while I’m at it, fuck the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, fuck the Westridge Creative judges, fuck the Sheriff’s Office, and fuck ALL the political enablers LARPing like they give a shit while our societal fabric frays before our eyes in real time.
If something doesn’t change with the attitudes of our elected leaders, then I pray they get what they deserve from the cosmic forces of karma.
And if these gutless cowards find that statement threatening, remember, the chaplain for the Sheriff’s Office and head of the LifeGuard Group, Lowell Hochhalter gets to confess how he begs God to literally kill the people who make his life hard.
The chaplain for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks for reading!