David Gonzalez is the recipient of the 1999 NYAPRS Brendan Nugent Leadership Award, the first person with a mental illness to receive the National AAPD Paul G. Hearne Award for People with Disabilities, and the recipient of the New York State Department of Mental Health’s Office of Consumer Affairs 2000 Consumer Advocacy Award. He writes at The American Mental Disability Clemency Organization:
Accurately identifying the various causes behind the criminalization of the mentally ill can only be accomplished by an impartial examination of our society’s preconceived notions of the mentally ill. This can be done by examining society’s treatment of the mentally ill throughout the course of history. Stigma clearly plays a major role in the criminalization of the mentally ill because of society’s inability to accept the dualistic and sometimes vile impulses of human nature inherent in all human beings. Therefore, society seeks to explain away unjustified acts of violence and aggression as symptoms of a mental illness, in effect scapegoating the mentally ill.