If your loved one has a mental health diagnosis and is arrested, it can be helpful to fax a letter to the county jail and request that your loved one be screened for placement in a mental health unit. (Or you can deliver your letter in person to the jail.) Here are instructions for what information
Posts Tagged ‘ mentally ill inmate ’
A mother emailed us recently about her disabled son in the Dallas County Jail, that she feared he wasn’t getting the right care. Then a surprise: she gave props to an officer she met during visitation and repeated what the officer said about the Texas Jail Project:
“When a Sergeant at the Lew Sterret Jail mentioned about you alls project I didn’t know then what she was talking about.
It was another mom there at the jail that day. This lady had a son my sons age about 20 or 21. He was having suicidal thoughts & her son didn’t want to come out and see her & this lady was so hurt. The Sergeant told her don’t cry and the Sergeant had tears in her eyes and she mentioned you all name about the project they have now to help people who is mentally disabled.
The Sergant said I like this project they got now for people in jail. And this lady Sergeant said one day I would love to join this organization. Thank you for responding back. So glad to know some one cares about the mentally disabled.”
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.
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.”
You need to to get help for your loved one as soon as they are arrested. If nobody at the jail will talk to you about this, ask the lawyer to get this information to the right person at the jail or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org ….And remember what they say in this list:
“In your fax, do NOT discuss any criminal charges. Medical information only!”
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.”