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Pepper’s case spotlights gaps in mental-health care

Almost everyone in Victoria has a Pepper story.

“My daughter, who is in fourth grade, even talks about him,” District Attorney Stephen Tyler said. “He’s more famous than you or I or anybody in town.”

So it surprised some when the man often seen roaming Victoria streets in search of a few bucks or delighting bar patrons with his singing was arrested on suspicion of beating a man unconscious April 17. However, Pepper, whose real name is Marlin Adams, has a criminal history in Victoria that spans more than 20 years.

Pepper’s arrest prompted a debate about the dangers posed by people diagnosed with a mental illness and whether the community was adequately equipped to treat them. Gulf Bend Center and law enforcement officials warn stereotyping doesn’t help them walk the tightrope between treating these individuals and protecting the public.

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