Mentally ill Texans caught up in the criminal justice system do not fare well, for the most part. The complexities of their illnesses and the limitations of the county jails lead to nightmare situations, but there is one contributing factor that could be changed: currently, mentally ill people are dropped from the Medicaid rolls and benefits are TERMINATED after 30 days in a county jail. Read this editorial from the Houston Chronicle about a common sense solution to correct this situation in the coming legislative session.
Posts Tagged ‘ mentally ill inmate ’
The American Friends report to the UN describes the inhumanity of the U.S. justice system and the mistreatment of humans in our prisons and jails. Family members across Texas are reporting on similar conditions in many in our Texas county jails. Will Texas legislators step up and demand changes?
“At the close of 2012, the U.S. led the world in incarceration rates1 with over 2.2 million adults held in prisons and jails. Why is this the case? Deeply flawed policies focusing on punishment − not healing or rehabilitation − have created a pipeline through which economically disadvantaged populations are funneled into prisons and jails. Incarcerated individuals are frequently exposed to deplorable, cruel, and dangerous conditions of confinement that no human being should experience.”
In this new story picked up by the New York Times, a Henderson county lawyer complains about a judge who has the nerve to speak out about jail operations. “He has absolutely no business trying to be a doctor from the bench,” says Robert Davis. Of course, Judge Tarrance has all the business in the world doing that, since people have reported ongoing neglect and mistreatment –numerous cases! Texas Jail Project heard from a woman last week who was forced to stay in a cell totally naked and denied her right to call a lawyer or bailbondsman. And like most of the inmates, she was not yet convicted, but was being held pretrial.
So the county is outraged by a judge who took the unusual steps of ordering medical care and going public? We say it’s about time.
During the last session, we informed lawmakers about the need for study of how county jails use solitary confinement or seclusion cells for housing mentally ill inmates. But the Texas Sheriffs Association and others forced the removal of county jails from SB 1003, and the questions remain. Reporters and lawyers and families ask us for information and the jails stonewall everyone, as more and more cases are revealed, where mentally ill people are being locked in solitary cells for weeks and months–growing sicker and often committing suicide. Here is the one page information handout we have on use of seclusion; let us know if you’d like to help us work on this issue.
Texas Jail Project asks for input on the following blog about the Harris County Jail’s specialized psychiatric care. We also want to know if any other jails across Texas are creating similar mental health units or implementing “best practices” or training officers to help inmates with mental disorders, to prevent inmates from getting sicker or from committing suicide.
Author and retired deputy warden Carl ToersBijns says “events inside the Maricopa County Jail prompted me to look at other jails nationwide and seek the differences in both the operational aspect of things and the treatment levels of mentally ill inmates incarcerated in our jails and prisons…..
In late 2012, Brandon Wood became executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) after former director Adan Muñoz retired.
Imagine your loved one, out of his or her mind with a terrible mental problem–incarcerated in a local jail. On the next page, a Texas Tribune story tells of a tragic end for such a person. (“Llano County Jail Death”) Now we have received a personal note that describes just how difficult it is to deal with the system when trying to help a mentally ill person inside a jail:
“My brother had been incarcerated for months in an East Texas county jail and due to mental illness needed transfer to a mental health facility…We had called several different advocacy organizations with no success and I was just so thrilled and relieved when I spoke to Diana. She was the first to take an interest and start looking into my brother’s case.”
Texas Jail Project is concerned, as are many people, about a person with mental disorders being shot to death during transport to a state hospital. Our deepest sympathies to his mother and the rest of the family. We are shocked to hear from them that there were no charges and no further investigation of this death and that the family has been left high and dry. . . what kind of county treats the loved ones of its citizens like this? Texas Jail Project supports efforts to find out more about how this officer came to shoot an unarmed person on the way to ta hospital. There is a link to a newstory about the shooting of Nathan Pierce by a Grayson County deputy on the next page, along with an obituary we obtained online.
A jailer wrote to us, telling us of positive changes at the jail we were all concerned about. This account has to be anonymous to respect the privacy and protect the job of this correctional officer. We hope to hear from more jailers. “There have been so many good changes since you and the chaplains and the
When Sheriff Garcia stated that more work has to be done to address jailing of the mentally ill, he said a mouthful. But that statement is little consolation to those whose family member dies in that jail.