Asperger’s Syndrome

Darius McCollum Needs Help, Not Injustice

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Commentary written collaboratively by Aread Diaz, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Frank Faretra, Matthew Ianelli, Joseph Jones, Michael Smith, with Edward Gregory.

Darius McCollum, a convicted train thief with Asperger’s Syndrome, will be getting mental help, instead of jail.  Will it be the kind of help he needs; will he be locked in an asylum; or will he be treated and released back into society?  What kind of help he gets, the courts will decide.  Life-Wire News Service has some opinions on the subject.  Here’s what we think:IMG_0626

Darius McCollum needs justice, not injustice from the justice department.  In fact, they put him in jail for a mental disorder that they know nothing about. How can you lock someone in an institution when he needs help? Being in a psych ward is like being in Hell, and that’s not fun.  Most people don’t or won’t understand his love for the transit system and calling him a thief.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand his mental disability. –Joseph Jones.

If he has a disorder, they should allow him to go to the hospital for his disorder.  They should help people when they have a disorder, not put them in jail. -Kareem Ellison

He needs help because he stole trains. Be good to yourself and others.  Do not send Darius to jail; he needs psychological help.  –Frank Faretra.

He’s a good bus driver and I seen lots of buses and I’ve seen a lot of people drive them.  Sometimes I see people drive the trains.  He needs a job, a career and mental help. –Michael Smith.

He should go to the hospital because he steals buses and trains, so he can get better.  –Matthew Ianelli.

People spend a lot of time talking about him as a notorious criminal.  But all he does with these vehicles is what the normal bus drivers do; but people say he does it better.  –Anthony DiFato.

He’s not that bad at all.  He needs help. If he doesn’t get his help, he could spend the rest of his life in jail or an asylum.  -Aread Diaz

We encourage the judge and the justice system to do what’s right for Darius McCollum.

Find out more at Free Darius Now Online.

Here is our recent review of the documentary: Off the Rails: Story of a One-Track Mind.

‘Off the Rails,’ Story of A One-Track Mind

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From the time he was a young boy, Darius McCollum was fascinated by trains.  The trains were his hiding spot to get away from his troubles.  But when he took it upon himself to steal trains, he became infamous.

Off the Rails, a film by Adam Irving that tells Darius’ story, gets its United States theatrical run this November, qualifying it for Oscar consideration. It can be seen in Los Angeles at the Laemmie Music Hall, November 4 through 10, and in New York City at the Metrograph Theater, November 18 through 24.

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Darius McCollum, Off the Rails publicity photo.

McCollum, who is said to have Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail more than 30 times for taking trains and buses for joy rides (often with passengers unaware), trespassing, and impersonating various mass transit personnel. A panel of individuals with disabilities reviewed the film, making their own observations.

“I never saw someone who took so much pride in his job,” said reviewer Joseph Padalino. “He doesn’t hurt the passengers.  He calls out the stops with more enthusiasm than the real drivers. I wouldn’t even care about his disability. I would ride with him.”

“It makes you wonder how safe the train system is,” according to Anthony DiFato. “You have him in jail and there is no counseling. The criminal justice system is not fair.  It’s not like he killed someone.”

McCollum’s story is also being considered for a feature film, starring Julia Roberts as McCollum’s attorney, Sally Butler.  Meanwhile, Darius sits in jail since November 2015 for his latest escapade and is facing a possible 15-year sentence behind bars. A $15 million lawsuit has been filed by Butler on McCollum’s behave, citing the lack of mental health services that he has received thus far in prison.

-Written as a group, including Dolores Palermo, Joseph Jones, Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony Kefalinos, Anthony Buscarello, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory and Kathryn Carse.