Market Street Stabber Previously Released on Diversion

“The man accused of stabbing two Asian women Tuesday evening in San Francisco was previously charged with assault with a deadly weapon in 2017,” reports Megan Cassidy of the SF Chronicle.

Thompson was later placed in a mental health diversion program, which defense attorneys at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office said he successfully completed in August 2020, according to court filings. Diversion programs allow defendants’ criminal charges to be set aside while they complete community programming and other requirements.

Judges can dismiss cases for defendants who complete diversion programs, but it was not clear from the court filings whether a judge ordered any such dismissal for Thompson.

Obviously, Thompson’s completion of the program was no guarantee he would not assault more people with another deadly weapon. He did exactly that.

Normally, in a pretrial case we would hedge with weasel words like “alleged.” But in this case he is on video committing the crime. Dion Lim of ABC7 posted the video, but not without some soul-searching.

Compassion is often in order for people with mental illness who commit violent acts, and leniency sometimes is. But we must be realistic about preventing them from committing more crimes. That includes being realistic about our very limited capacity to cure mental illness. Institutionalization got a bad name some decades back, partly deserved and partly exaggerated. But some dangerously mentally ill people need to be incapacitated whether they deserve to be punished or not.

And never forget: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.