How Gotham’s Mental Health System Failed Harley Quinn

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from Harley Quinn #13, on sale now.

At the end of Harley Quinn #13 (by Stephanie Phillips, Riley Rossmo, Jay Leisten, Ivan Plascencia, AndWorld Design) Harley Quinn was arrested on false charges of murder. She had been framed for the crime of killing multiple mobsters in a violent shootout perpetrated by her mysterious new enemy, Verdict. However, the false accusation isn't the problem so much as Gotham City's solution. Rather than giving her a chance to defend herself, Harley was unceremoniously locked up in Blackgate Penitentiary without any chance of trial or bail.

Adding to this is the complete disregard for Harley's mental state. Harley, even at the best of times, does not have the most stable mind. However, she is also one of the more benevolent mentally unstable characters running around Gotham. As such, her mental health should have been factored into what was done with her. Instead of being thrown into a prison cell, Harley should have been sent to a mental healthcare facility to receive proper help. By not doing this, Gotham once again shows that it has made no progress in how it assists those with mental illness, as well as a complete disregard for the rule of law in trying those who can legally claim insanity.

Harley Quinn Is Sent to Blackgate

Now granted, the main facility to hold an individual like Harley, Arkham Asylum, has been defunct for some time now. After an attack that was blamed on the Joker, the asylum was left abandoned. However, a new facility was built in the center of Gotham: Arkham Tower. Even though the original staff set it up as a scam, it has now been placed into the hands of a true professional in Doctor Meridian and is on the way to being a genuine place of mental healing. At either stage of its existence, it should have been the place Harley was sent to after being arrested.

Adding to this, the logic behind arresting Harley is faulty at best. While the costume worn by the perpetrator was that of Harley Quinn, it was an older design that she hasn't worn in years. Moreover, the attack was completely random and seemed to indicate a personal grudge against the mobsters. Harley had no reason to do it, yet the only evidence was someone in a costume that looked like hers. It not only portrays the GCPD as incompetent, but also calls into question their foresight. If Harley truly had a vendetta against criminals, then locking her in Blackgate isn't a solution, it's a massacre waiting to happen.

Harley Quinn Should Be In Arkham

Of course, there might be a more cruel reason for locking her up. Over the last few years Gotham City has grown steadily tired of attacks from costumed villains like the Joker and Scarecrow. They all drag the city into their personal feud with Batman and the collateral damage is always massive. By locking Harley up without due legal process or any chance at pleading insanity, the more corrupt factions of the GCPD might be trying to get rid of costumed villains for good by simply ignoring basic laws.

If true, then they have made an incredible blunder. Harley has spent the last few months reinventing herself, working closely with the Bat-Family and even changing her moral code to include sparing her enemies from death. Even if the police are trying to do something they believe to be right, they have not only locked up an innocent woman, but also a hero.

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