"Lifetime of supervision for Bryan Stanley
By Richard Mial / email@example.com.
Several weeks before Bryan Stanley walked into an Onalaska church and shot three people, we started getting letter to the editor submissions from him.
The letters made little sense, and in them he said he believed that he was the prophet Elijah. It’s hard to tell when a letter is just too weird to print or whether it’s a sign that there are dangerous things going on in the writer’s head.
Stanley was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and was sent to a state mental institution, where he still lives today, in a far less restrictive setting than when he was first sent there.
During his time there, he has written a book and has been allowed to leave the facility for work and family visits, all without incident.
That background was part of the reason the District 4 Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Stanley should be released.
But what kind of supervision will there be? Stanley functions well on medication, but what if he decides not to take it?
This case was a tragedy for all sides � for the families of the victims as well as for Stanley’s family.
After the murders and court proceedings, the Stanley family became outspoken about the need for more tools to deal with the mentally ill. Stanley family members argued that there needed to be another standard for involuntary treatment if it can be shown that people are a danger to themselves or others and that they are unable to make decisions about their own condition and treatment.
The Legislature finally passed that standard in 1996, giving families and health care officials another tool in dealing with mental illness.
I’m convinced that Stanley really didn’t comprehend his crime in 1985, and that the sentence of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect was appropriate.
But the issue is safety for the public and stability for Stanley. Given those concerns, he should remain under some form of supervision for the rest of his life � to assure that he remains on the medication that keeps him able to function as well as he has been.
That’s the least that we can do for the families of the victims � and for Stanley himself."