The Case of Ralph Tortorici
In 1994, Ralph Tortorici took a history class hostage; he was armed with a gun and a kitchen knife. In 1996 after many trials Tortorici was ascertained culpable and sentenced to 201-47 years in jail by Judge Rosen and immediately was put to Sullivan Correctional Facility and put under mental health services in his cell (Frontline, n.d). After evaluating Tortorici’s case proceedings up to his sentence, Judge Rosen and those who were in his case did not do justice to Tortorici. Instead of helping him to get over his mental illness, they made him a victim of his own illness as he ended up committing suicide (NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, 2019). Both court proceedings and the ruling was unpleasing because we expect the legal facilities to do us justice and not victimize us.
The most compelling mental health issues, in this case, are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and delusion. Tortorici suffered from mental illness as his brother Matthew Tortorici urged that due to delusion his brother was convinced that in the final treatment operation a tracking gadget was implanted in his body. Also, in the psychotic facility, Tortorici would be seen talking to unseen people and sometimes he talked about things that never made sense. To overcome anxiety and depression Tortorici involved himself in substance abuse which caused him more damage than the help he anticipated.
The court was so determined to make Tortorici competent to stand his trial; this shows that the court was more interested in prosecuting Tortorici instead of being determined to know what his reasons of taking a whole class hostage were. The court showed that they only cared for the damages the hostages suffered and were less concerned about Tortorici. The court failed to find Tortorici insane because they termed his action as a well-planned act hence he knew what he was doing. Through this case we realize that there is the relationship between mental health and the criminal justice system is pathetic. This is due to the fact that despite Tortorici committing a national crime his mental health status was not considered and he ended up being sentenced. The criminal justice systems weigh the heaviness of an offense and not the mental illness of the defendant.
Frontline (n.d). Ralph Tortorici. An Overview.
http://pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/crime/ralph/summary.html Accessed May 15,
NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. (2019). http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/1999/torthang.html Accessed May 15, 2019.