Did Our Justice System Fail a Sick Psychiatrist?

CSM digs into case of convicted drug dealer Joel Dreyer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2015 12:55 PM CDT
Did Our Justice System Fail a Sick Psychiatrist?
Joel Dreyer.   (Police mugshot)

Back in the 1980s, Joel Dreyer was a devoted family man and a respected psychiatrist who testified as an expert witness in criminal trials. Today, he's serving 10 years for his stint as one of the biggest prescription drug dealers in California's Riverside County. How did it all go wrong? It started with some odd behavior around 2000 when Dreyer was 63, the California Sunday Magazine reports in a lengthy feature. Family members say he began running stop signs, watching a lot of porn, and stealing pens or groceries. Police started getting complaints that Dreyer was handing out cheap prescriptions for Vicodin, Ambien, and Oxycontin at gyms, restaurants, and in parking lots—including to a woman found dead of an overdose.

After he was arrested and pleaded guilty, brain scans suggested Dreyer was suffering from a neurological condition called frontotemporal dementia, which can cause sociopathic and reckless behavior. Still, a prison psychiatrist found him to be competent, and the 78-year-old Dreyer is now halfway through a 10-year sentence at Taft Federal Correctional Institution. "There is no guiding framework for how the courts should handle such cases," reports the magazine. "Where we are is an interesting moment in history," adds a law professor. "Are we going to have to reimagine or reconceive a criminal justice system that better reflects what we’re finding out about the brain?" Read the full story here. (Read more dementia stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.