This is what happens when a society allows crazy people to freely wander the streets. Yes, it's unfortunate that some people are comlpetely insane, but we shouldn't let our pity move us to foolishness. I'm not a psychologist or a medical doctor, so I don't know exactly where to draw the line, but I believe that a fair and just system of civil committment could be developed that would benefit both society as a whole, and the crazy people who were locked up. How crazy is too crazy? I know it when I see it. Society should be willing to bear this cost, as it does with the prison system, but money should not be wasted on largely inneffectual "treatments"; innmates should be housed in as comfortable a state as is reasonably possible, and should be prevented from hurting themselves or others.
Our prison system is awful in many ways, but it is better than any other in the world. Nevertheless, it is still in dire need of improvement, and I'm not talking about greater access to gym equipment or cable TV -- I'm talking about eliminating the daily routine of rape and assault that goes on in many of our nation's jails with a wink and a nod from society. A more robust civil committment system would be in danger of this same corruption, in addition to the danger of abuse by authorities given charge over it. It would need to be closely supervised by the public, and its power divided between competing branches of government. It would also not be cheap, but it would be cheaper than the costs of allowing dangerously erratic and insane people to roam freely, beneath our notice until they commit some horrible crime.