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Robbery suspect had been struggling mentally

Original post made on Nov 21, 2008

Jeffrey Owen Smith, the Palo Alto man arrested Tuesday night and charged with robbing a purse from a woman in Menlo Park, had been trying hard to straighten out his life but had mental health difficulties, Eileen Richardson, the director of the Downtown Street Team in Palo Alto, said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 21, 2008, 2:40 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Sick of Hypocrisy
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2008 at 6:57 pm

It is amazing how the press continues to find every possible excuse for criminals and yet belligerently forces out Chief of Police who dedicated 34 years of her life to fighting crime. I am so sick of hypocrisy, I can't take it anymore.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2008 at 7:17 pm

If people really do have a mental problem, then they should be in an institution for their protection and ours. If, and I say if, they prove that they are able to lead a productive life and once again if, they have family or sheltered accommodation that will help them to keep on the straight and narrow with being returned to institutionalization if they fail, then maybe then they can be allowed to live in the outside world.

It is no good using excuses for every criminal that they had mental problems when they are caught breaking the law. What would the system have said if he had actually murdered one of his victims.

Mental illness and criminal behavior should mean institutionalization. No ifs, whys or buts.

Posted by progression
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 21, 2008 at 7:31 pm

This is what progression is all about: Letting people off whenever they want to plea mental health. This is just as insane as the actually insane people. But this is what progressive democracy brings; the hope for every human being to follow whatever retarded ideas they have. It is a no win situation, as I hope most of you can see this is where this country is heading...Although i agree with the simple human rights, I believe that this defense is way to far fetched and is just commuting the defense to other morons that think that they can get away with this. What mental health disease causes someone to steal some ladies purse...?

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 22, 2008 at 9:21 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by jqk
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2008 at 10:09 am

A Noun Ea Mus,

Are you serious? Did you really just spend all that time typing this out? Seriously, get some sun, eat a good meal, and maybe have a glass of wine. Life is as good as you make it. Sheesh.

Posted by Max Power
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2008 at 10:11 am


Indeed, my friend.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

Hey I get two hours a day bike commuting (how PA PC heh?). And why would I drink wine when I can have a Bombay Martini with my Arugula?

Didn't take me long to pound that out on the keyboard. After reading Palinesque posts here I think I have a feel for the ving.

Posted by unreal
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2008 at 11:24 am

The problem here is confusion in trying to sort out the difference between bad behavior and a bad person. Mr. Smith may very well have been trying, but his behavior is aberrant and should be punished, so that he can learn a lesson, and at the same time be helped, if possible. Our prison system is pathetic as very little is done for mentally ill prisoners, and many others are made worse in prison. Very few people are bad to the core. Also, it was a mistake to target the Chief, and draw conclusions from a misstatement. Palo Alto has lost twice on this one.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Where does it say the guy will be let off the hook because he has mental health issues? That's not how insanity pleas work, guys. They're hard to get and you have to be really, really crazy--as unable to distinguish right from wrong, technically, to qualify.

So enough with the over-reaction. It can't be that big a surprise that this guy has drug problems. Drugs are a big motive behind robbery and burglary. If addiction were a get-of-jail-card, we'd have mostly empty prisons and jails.

It was a good reason, though, to vote for increased drug treatment as an alternative to three strikes for nonviolent offenders. (And, no, this guy wouldn't qualify--he's a violent offender.)

Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Palo Alto created a magnet for bums, called the Opportunity Center, then the bums arrived, and continue to arrive. Then crime increases. Then PA officials start making excuses. I will bet that this perp lived in BMR housing in PA, provided by the local welfare housing group.

Why are we giving away our city to people who cannot afford to live here?

Posted by Janice
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Jim - you have taken the words right out of my mouth. I can't agree more. Palo Alto has really gone down hill. I don't even enjoy walking around downtown anymore.

Posted by Marli
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2008 at 11:14 pm

It is time for the Palo Alto's Downtown Street Team be reviewed!!!

Mary Ann Morgan was part of the team once, she was even one of the faces for the program calendar, but she left the program because she could not follow all the rules, and was found dead on the streets of Palo Alto. Jeffrey Owen Smith was part of the team, and he also left. All the discipline imposed is not helping those who need help the most.

People who can handle discipline are not usually homeless, and they are not usually people with mental issues. So, the Palo Alto's Downtown Street Team is nothing but a show so Palo Altans can see the homeless in bright yellow shirts swiping their side walks.

Eileen Richardson, director of Palo Alto's Downtown Street Team, and former CEO of Napster (online music file sharing service that was shut down by court order accusations of massive copyright violations), runs a program that does not really helped people that need the most. We need a real program that can help those who need to be helped and does not give false hopes for the city.

The same for the Opportunity Center. All the rules is letting many people who really need the service on the streets.

Palo Alto need to figure it out a way to help those who need the most without creating more problems for the city. The OC has brought dozens of homeless people from all over the Bay to our city.

Posted by ridiculous
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm

i know of vietnmese imigrants,who when dissatified with trheir low oaying job,apply for benefits,recieve it almost immediately,while african american man could not recieve benefits,even with severe health problem.unable to work.and anerica has the gall to make africans sweep the street for peanuts! i am not prejudiced ,i have asian ancestry.i dont want to hear anyone say im lying,cause if i find you i can prove to you my asian ancestry,but i dont trust the racists on this forum.youll justr have to believe me.if you dont ,that hurts you and all peoples in the world and beyond

Posted by H
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Vote Jim for City Council, enough of the free rides, if you can't afford to live here then you live where you can afford to live.

Entitlement programs drag everyone down.

Posted by Gotta help
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2008 at 10:48 am

People need to live close to where they make their living, right? It cuts commute time, pollution, CO2, all that good stuff. So if someone makes a living taking purses and wallets from the citizens of Palo Alto, why should they be forced to live in outlying cities due to Palo Alto's high property values. I mean, consider the sheer number of wallets and pursed that would need to be stolen to support this cost of living. So we have programs to help these poor folks to live in Palo Alto, closer to their livlihood. They can help themselves to our possessions, sell stuff to our kids that are unobtainable in any storefront, help us get those nasty catalytic converter off our cars, and all that good stuff without having to commute over any bridges or freeways.

Makes sense to me,...

Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Sounds like Jim, H, Janice, and others of like sentiment, ought to head over to Palo Alto Hardware and see if they can negotiate a deal on some bulk fencing. A sturdy cyclone fence with redwood lattice work would be a nice touch. The police could then stop anyone who looks too poor to afford the Palo Alto Way, check ID's for residency, run credit checks, and deport those found trespassing. Of course, the city will have to raise taxes in order to pay for the extra police as well as the EMT's required to respond to homeowner injuries as they attempt to maintain their property in the Palo Alto Way without nonresident labor.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm

I love the Downtown Street Team! They are polite, always have a smile for a passerby and are doing a good job!

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Noun: knock it off with your continued attacks on Conservatives. You are the main reason that has become a hot button issue on these boards. It's almost surreal that an anachronism such as yourself is still around! It doesn't take long to 'pound out' your replies because it's all trite cut and paste archaic rhetoric.

I am a conservative and I am all in favor of the downtown project. Maybe it needs a bit of tightening up as one person mentioned, but I think it's largely a positive program.

And, 'Palinesque' my butt. This isn't the first post that has revealed your apparent intimidation by strong, intelligent women. We scare you, hey 'babe'?

You bethca!

Posted by Faith Bell
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Eileen Richardson and the Downtown Streets Team are a godsend to the downtown. You should see what this place would look like without their continued efforts. Instead of criticizing them, how about applauding the positive changes the DST has been able to make in a lot of lives (including yours, if you walk downtown and enjoy the cleaner streets.) Maybe seeing what happens when mentally ill people don't get treatment will make our country realize it's long past time for decent universal health care.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm

To "YouShouldKnow"

I am not really attacking Conservatives so much as the rampant racism and hysteria I read here. My post was removed, but I am not whining about it and going on like you all do. It was a sarcastic aside. And it was left/liberal and still removed.

For the record, I did not cut and paste anything.

Palin and the rest of you conservative females... What Me intimidated by "strong" and "intelligent"? If Palin is intelligent then I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

Go back to Toolin' and Chuggin'.

My only fear is that I'll be riding my bike as you "tool" by in your V8. But you see a black guy and get freaked, distracted, and run me over. But better me than some 10 year old.

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