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Everyone wants to help David. But nothing seems to work.

- The Boston Globe

It felt like they had chased the dream forever: to keep the homeless man in the red sneakers off the streets.


Everyone in the Dorchester courtroom this September day knew David: the judge; the defense attorneys and the prosecutors; the caseworker from the state mental health department. For months, for years — even for decades — he had been a familiar figure here, arrested a staggering 150 times, usually on drug charges or for breaking and entering.


He was 56 now, his beard wild and grayed. His thinking was frequently confused. He believed, at times, that his medications made him taller, or that children he saw on the street were undercover police. He had long suffered from delusions, mania, and depression — symptoms that resembled schizoaffective disorder, one psychiatrist who examined him said.


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