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Kevin Cullen

A losing proposal

We need better mental health care in Massachusetts. More beds for longer, more intense treatment that works. Easier access to outpatient services.

And while we’re at it, we could increase the regulatory pressure on insurance companies that balk at paying for intensive care, even as they cut reimbursements, forcing therapists to either leave the field or make their patients pay out-of-pocket.

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We need to be treating, as opposed to punishing, many in the criminal justice system, not only because it’s the most humane thing to do, but because it’s the most economically feasible thing to do.

Now, with those caveats out of the way, it’s time to take this to the next level: Beacon Hill.

Not necessarily for more money, because those clowns have rarely shown any decency when it comes to paying for better mental health care.

No, I’m talking about having everybody’s head on Beacon Hill examined. Because it’s clear not everybody under the Golden Dome has a golden dome.

Take, for example, the recent proposal to strip Lottery winnings from pedophiles.

The inspiration for this inspired piece of tripe comes from the arrest of one Daniel Snay, 62, an ex-con from Uxbridge who put the Level 3 in Level 3 sex offenders.

I’d say Snay came right from central casting — think the old guy in “Home Alone,” minus the shovel — except that child molesters don’t often look like that; they usually look shockingly ordinary.

But I have no doubt that Snay’s “Chester The Molester” appearance is one of the reasons so many legislators, and even Treasurer Steve Grossman, jumped up and proposed such a rash response.

Beyond the dubious legality of such a law, it would complicate the efforts of victims who might want to use existing civil remedies to claim their abuser’s assets.

By the way, how often do sexual predators win the Lottery anyway? I’m guessing many victims of sexual violence and abuse would like to see their abusers win more often, so they can sue them.

As it stands now, long after their abusers are put in prison — or, more likely, not put in prison — victims are left with unseen scars, some which require years of therapy, some which incapacitate. Either way, they deserve compensation. Unfortunately, that rarely happens, because few abusers have any real assets.

Police say Snay used his winnings to buy all-terrain vehicles for an alleged victim, buying the boy’s silence with gifts he couldn’t afford before he won $10 million.

But Snay was a predator long before he won the lottery, with six convictions under his belt, and if he was still broke, what was to stop him from using, say, a six-pack to achieve the same result? It might not have worked with the kid who got an ATV, but then Snay, like all predators, would have moved on, looking for somebody else.

Now, I’d suggest the Legislature quadruple the price of six-packs except those knuckleheads might take me seriously.

While we’re at it, how many kids in struggling families struggle more because mom or pop are blowing the rent money on lottery tickets?

If Grossman called for eliminating the lottery, the most regressive form of income redistribution in history, I’d be cheering.

There are plenty of ways the Legislature could actually help protect vulnerable kids, starting with properly funding the Department of Children and Families, where there are an inadequate number of social workers and they are paid like nuns.

To protect even more children, lawmakers could pay more attention to, and more for, accessible mental health care. If they did that, caseloads would shrink and fewer poor kids would fall through the cracks.

In the meantime, if they really want to help, House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray could convene hearings to explain how a sexual predator like Snay, with a record longer than his creepy arm, was free and in a position to walk into a Cumberland Farms and buy a winning lottery ticket in the first place.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.
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