Why was Daniel St. Hubert turned loose on the streets of New York City?
He had a serious history of psychosis. He had a notorious taste for violence. But when he wrapped up his 5-year prison sentence little more than two weeks ago, he was free to walk the streets of Gotham so long as he met his parole officer regularly.
What St. Hubert needed was mental health care — and in retrospect — court-ordered involuntary confinement.
What he got was a major bureaucratic shrug, and today New Yorkers are paying the price. Here’s what happened since his May 23 release:
On June 1, St. Hubert entered an East New York public housing complex and viciously stabbed two small children inside an elevator, according to police. P.J. Avitto, 6, was killed and his good friend Mikayla Capers, 7, was seriously injured.
On May 30, 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland was fatally stabbed while walking in Brooklyn. Five days ago, a 53-year-old man was stabbed while sleeping in a Chelsea subway station. The NYPD is looking at St. Hubert in connection with both of those cases.
These horrors were not unpredictable.
St. Hubert was in prison for trying to strangle his mom with an electrical cord. While imprisoned, he attacked a female correction officer.
He had been treated with mandatory therapy for years while behind bars. But by the time his sentence was finished, he had not been cited for violent behavior in more than a year, according to news reports.
So St. Hubert was permitted to leave prison with no mental health safety net.
Given his history of violence, officials could have pushed to have him confined involuntarily in a psychiatric facility. Or they could have sought a court order for outpatient treatment under Kendra’s Law.
But they didn’t. The state owes us a tough inquiry into what happened and why. St. Hubert was left untreated, and the public was left unprotected. Shameful.