Public Value or Cheap Sensationalism?

There was a time in my life when I might have felt differently about a court battle that is currently being waged in Wisconsin. As a newspaper reporter, I talked alot about “the public’s right to know.”

But now that I am the father of a son with a mental disorder — well, I’m a bit more skeptical.

Bryan Stanley murdered a custodian, a lay minister and a priest at the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin in February 1985.  At the time, he was twenty-nine years old and mentally ill. He believed he was a prophet sent by God to cleanse the church after a priest allowed girls to read Scriptures during Mass.

Found not guilty —“by reason of mental disease” — Stanley was sent to the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison in October 1985.  Some fifteen years later in March 2009, doctors at the institute decided Stanley could be safely discharged. After thoroughly reviewing his case, La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez agreed. She approved his release but ordered specific monitoring restrictions.

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