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Robby Ivy is “care navigator” for Atlanta's Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative, a program has created an unlikely alliance between police officers and criminal justice activists. Together, they’re trying to answer a key question: Can helping the addicted, mentally ill, and homeless instead of hauling them to jail make Atlanta safer?
Rickey Wingo, fifty-three, suffered from schizophrenia and got agitated due to a side effect of his medicine. The final time it happened, workers at Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital pinned him to the ground and beat him to death, according to the state’s chief medical examiner, who ruled Wingo’s death a homicide. No staffers were charged or punished. Wingo’s case was just one of 115 suspicious deaths and incidents uncovered in a five-year Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation of Georgia’s state psychiatric hospitals. No, this wasn’t Jack Nelson’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize–winning exposé about abuses at Milledgeville’s Central State. This series was published in 2007. Do you remember it?