The Marshall Project has published Maurice Chammah’s new story about Marine veteran Adan Castañeda with the subtitle, “Does he belong in a prison or a hospital?” Looking at his history of mental illness and trauma, it seems obvious that the 28-year-old former scout sniper needs psychiatric care in a hospital. But when he goes on trial, he could receive a long sentence in TDCJ, despite the fact that he did not injure anyone when he shot up his parents’ house. During the more than three years he’s been held pretrial in the Comal County Jail, he has deteriorated. His mother reports that Castañeda no longer always remembers his service, and he often expresses fear and paranoia. While she believes her son can be well again, she doubts that outcome is possible in a prison setting.
Posts Tagged ‘ veterans ’
I’m James Bernard, a pastor and a disabled veteran. I was jailed on a warrant by the Judge on a probation revocation due to a failed urinalysis. Although I had provided my probation officer a letter from my doctor stating what medication I took–Phenobarbital—and that it was necessary for seizures, the officer failed to turn
Rep. Garnet Coleman, chair of the House Committee on County Affairs, exchanged comments with Texas Jail Project’s director in Livingston last week, during a hearing on county jails and government. Director Diana Claitor described the hundreds of complaints from families about the lack of psychiatric meds; she said the Texas Commission on Jail Standards doesn’t hold the jails accountable when they fail to provide necessary meds to mentally ill people. “Texas Jail Project staff recently obtained the Commission’s Notices of Non-compliance for the past three years through 2013. Of the 169 jails found not in compliance with standards, only one was cited for failure to dispense medication,” said Claitor.
“Given that combat veterans’ PTSD issues often manifest in aggressive behavior, it flies in the face of reason not to take violent cases,” said Isabel Apkarian, a former assistant public defender in Orange County. “I don’t know how you have a veterans court without taking those clients.”
So Instead of spending two years in jail, a Marine in an Orange County court gets sentenced to therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, to counseling for substance abuse and then, to college–special treatment that he would not get in many Texas counties which do not have veterans courts for felons. Or any veterans court at all. Texas Jail Project knows of veterans sitting in jail cells across this state, because their counties don’t ensure timely trials and treatment, let alone create a veterans court. Read here about a different way to help combat veterans charged with criminal acts.
Iraqi veteran Adan Castaneda sat in the Comal County Jail in an isolation or ad seg cell for more than six months without any treatment for his mental illness. There is no way to know how that affected his condition; however, he has been moved and is receiving treatment finally, after his family’s persistent efforts and with the assistance of generous attorneys. See the San Antonio Current story about him here. . .