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Schizophrenic Man Was Jailed for a Year

Feb 6th, 2011 | Category: Dallas County, Jailhouse Stories

By Katie Fairbank Problem Solver, problemsolver@dallasnews.com, May 30, 2010 02:38 AM
A severely schizophrenic man held in the Dallas County Jail for nearly a year was released Tuesday to a mental institution.
Nicholas Sauve was arrested for shoving his mother last June. He was sentenced in September to 45 days in jail for a mental evaluation and five years of probation. Time and again, he was slated for release, but he never got beyond his cell in the jail’s north tower.
At first, he was to be released to a halfway house that is used primarily to reintroduce sex offenders into the community. But that order was amended before he was let out.
“Thank God. That would have been horrible. He would totally have been a victim,” said his mother, Janis Sauve.
He then was supposed to go to a state drug treatment program. But on pickup day, it was discovered that he had prescription drugs in his system. That disqualified him, and he lost his spot. When an opening came up again months later, he was declared too mentally ill to participate in the program. So he remained in jail.
DMN Problem Solver ran a column about his situation and, soon afterward, Sauve was declared incompetent and put on a waiting list for Vernon State Hospital.
Seven weeks later, he has finally been moved.
Ron Stretcher, the county’s criminal justice director, assured me that the doctors received his medical records outlining how he suffers severe reactions to a drug that is commonly given to mental patients during and after transfers.
“They prepared for that,” he said.
His mother said she is grateful that he was finally moved. She believes that his physical and mental states deteriorated while he was in jail. She said she was notified that during the nearly two-month wait for the Vernon transfer, he punched a fellow inmate and spit on a guard.
“He’s gotten worse,” she said. “It’s no surprise. It’s a place where he’s been denied medication, therapy, proper nutrition, and he’s has been in complete isolation 23 hours a day. If this was a human research study, it would be against the law.”
Sauve will remain at the Vernon hospital until doctors say he is better and he is declared competent.
“I hope he responds to treatment and gets back on track quickly,” Stretcher said. “Some folks who go are bad sick and will never get better.”
Sauve’s attorney, Leigh DeMasi – who contacted Problem Solver and offered her services pro bono after the column ran – presented a brief to the court asking that her client’s original plea bargain be overturned and a new trial set. District Judge Don Adams refused her request.
DeMasi has since filed a writ of habeas corpus, which asks for another review of the case and requires an answer from the judge. If that is denied, the case will move to the Court of Criminal Appeals for review.

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