Fitting tribute to Judge John Roll: This is a thoughtful and informative piece of journalism that attempts to put immediate events in much larger contexts ("Unbalanced," Paul Rubin and Amy Silverman, January 20).
Wouldn't it be something to know how murdered victims in the January 8 Tucson massacre might envision what Arizona's behavioral health and social-service system should look like?
In the case of the Honorable John C. Roll, the federal district court judge did leave us a detailed vision of that system. It can be found within a 17-page document, a settlement agreement Judge Roll ratified on June 26, 2001, in his courtroom in Tucson. Yes, 10 years ago, Judge Roll approved the settlement of a class-action suit (J.K. vs. Eden, et al.), which literally includes a written description of "The Arizona vision and principles" of the public behavioral-health system.
The J.K. settlement bears the name of a young man in Tucson with mental health challenges, but was accepted, in fact, on behalf of roughly 36,000 children and youth and their families who depend on Arizona's behavioral-health and social-service systems.
Many of the people interviewed for this story are among scores who have fought to bring that vision of a worthy behavioral-health system to life for the past 10 years. It would be a fitting way to honor Judge Roll's memory for the state's legislators, chief executive, and cabinet members to dust off that visionary document and rededicate themselves to it as the road map to guide operation of the public system of services Judge Roll knew Arizona's children, families, and citizens deserve.
Frank Rider, Raleigh, North Carolina, formerly of Arizona
Legislators' conspiracy to commit murder: Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . If Jared Lee Loughner could've gotten treatment — had been diagnosed as the schizophrenic he obviously is — this terrible tragedy might not have happened.
But crazy people do crazy things all over the country. This could've happened anywhere, except for one thing: It was painfully easy for a nutcase like Loughner to get a handgun in Arizona. All he had to do was walk into a store and buy it.
No matter how good or bad the mental-health system is in Arizona, Loughner could've been stopped with only firearms registration. He would never have been able to buy a gun in New York the way he did, unless he did it on the black market or got one from a gun owner under the table. And from the looks of those YouTube videos — especially the one of him walking across the Pima Community College campus raving mad — this guy would never have been able to figure out how to do that.
Point is, Arizona made it easy for this fruitcake to buy a gun and kill all those people. The state legislators who passed all those so-called "liberal" gun laws should be brought up on conspiracy-to-commit-murder charges.
Carlos Ruiz, Tucson
"Piece of work" is too kind: Governor Jan Brewer is a piece of work. As some have observed, she had the budget cuts to mental health in the works before the Tucson massacre. That is, they weren't her "response" to the tragedy.
Her "response" was to pay no attention to the tragedy and go ahead with the drastic cuts. Far be it from her to actually reconsider her plan — that is, conclude that her plan for cuts needed to be modified hugely in the wake of such a national tragedy involving a mentally ill man.
Linda Wang, Tempe
Just another murder statistic: I just moved here from northern California. I don't own a gun, but with all the violence around here, I feel I should purchase one. I hear of shootouts and house break-ins all the time.
Just because this guy was crazy doesn't mean [it isn't easy to buy a gun in Arizona and] there won't be more violence.
If I buy a gun and someone breaks into my house while I'm asleep, I'm likely to pull the trigger. Then, I'm just another murder statistic.
The whole point is, Arizona needs to step up its gun [restrictions].
Gonsalo Soto, Phoenix
Time for dissenters to tighten the belt: Where are the suggestions for other measures [besides mental health] to reduce?
All you dissenters, now it's time to tighten the belt, and you snivel like little, punk babies. You lefties have all the gripes, but no solutions.
Stop the giveaways, social welfare, and the freebies to illegals, and there might be a way out of this morass we're all in.
Neal N. Lichmee, Phoenix
Wait 'til it happens to them: Yes, let's get rid of costly mental-health treatment. I bet these politicians will change their minds when a paranoid schizophrenic off his medication shows up at their door. Are these people not capable of intelligent thought?
Ron Roberts, Phoenix