Does anyone know how mental illness in jail is handled?

Nandina

Member
I don't want to sound like I'm not relating so well here and just going to the facts of things but please know I am truly feeling your pain and praying for you, your son and your family, praying for healing and peace for you.

You don’t sound like that at all, Deni. I so appreciate your suggestions and thank you for the prayers. I realize this is not something that most people here have to deal with (jail) and so many things vary, based on state, etc.

His lawyer is in the loop, however, I’m not real pleased with his most recent response. He’s already been paid for; he charged a set fee to represent my son.

The lawyer (a criminal defense lawyer) has been in court with him twice, has been very responsive to every call or text and so far, I’ve been satisfied with him. He suggested in the beginning after my son’s crime that he enter drug treatment to avoid prison. At this point my son was staying with us temporarily and functioning ok, though there were signs that he had been affected by the drugs. (I assumed). Son entered a program immediately after court but was asked to leave after one month. He missed a court date after that and was picked up on a bench warrant and sent to this jail. Not long after arriving there he was placed in solitary, apparently for acting out (or more likely “freaking” out)

I first explained through text to lawyer last week that I thought my son was having a psychotic break and that he was talking nonsense, and he told me it was the drugs and it can take months to come out of. And that he had a similar situation with a client who got evaluated and it was found to be drugs so there was nothing they could do. He said jail is where son needs to be right now just to keep him off the streets or he will go right back to drugs.

I wrote again with more urgency and told him my son is essentially a vegetable, he needs treatment, and as his mother I will do everything in my power to see that he gets it. I said I am not asking for him to be freed, I want him to pay a consequence for his crime—I just want him to get treatment so that he can function! No response. That was yesterday.

My husband has been in contact with that state’s mental health dept. Apparently the state doesn’t intercede unless the inmate has been sentenced. And he has not been. But they gave us another resource and I will contact today.
 

Nandina

Member
Calling the attorney is essential. While it is a longshot it could be that his sentencing could be modified to deal with his emerging needs. For example, he could be diverted to a mental health facility
He has a court date in January but it’s my understanding that there may be several more court dates before sentencing. Perhaps the lawyer can request a modification. I can ask him, although if you see my response to Deni, he wasn’t real helpful recently when I appealed to him. I am not ready to fire the guy, he’s been paid for, but if he can’t help us in this area I will damn sure find an advocate who can.

We don't really know how long he has been suffering. The psychosis could have come first. This presents legal issues.
I think there were signs that psychosis was first, (did you mean before jail?) however he was functioning somewhat normally at his first court date because we were there with him. Nothing like he is now. I think solitary completely broke him.

And as always, thank you for your concern, advice and prayers, Copa. It means so much.
 

good vibes

New Member
I think you're going the correct route by working with his lawyer directly. Mood Disorder is a common mental illness with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It can be brought on by drug usage. So, you and your lawyer are likely both correct. Drugs manipulate key hormones in the brain and it can take a lengthy period of abstinence for them to return to balance and for a transient disorder to dissipate - usually from one to six months.
 

Nandina

Member
I’m not making any headway with his lawyer, unfortunately. I think he thinks his job is only to represent my son in court. He didn’t say that, but I’m coming to that conclusion based on his lack of impetus to move on this.

Originally, when he quoted a set fee and I paid it, he probably thought it was a cut and dry sort of thing and suggested getting my son in treatment right away, which we did. Of course, that didn’t last, he became homeless in another state, was on a drug binge, got arrested and jailed for misdemeanors in that state (lots of disorderly conduct), missed his court date with the lawyer, and was extradited back to the original state.

I contacted NAMI in that county and the mental health professional tried to assure me that if my son was exhibiting symptoms of psychosis, those in charge would surely notice. Right.

I just emailed the jailer as I couldn’t get past two rings then silence, on the jail phone. I explained the situation and asked him to refer my son to the proper person for an evaluation. If I have to I’ll hire an advocate if I can find one. I don’t want to beg to get the representation my son needs and I shouldn’t have to. I am spent.

Thank you good vibes for your comment and welcome, though sorry you have to be here.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
I’m not making any headway with his lawyer, unfortunately. I think he thinks his job is only to represent my son in court. He didn’t say that, but I’m coming to that conclusion based on his lack of impetus to move on this.

Originally, when he quoted a set fee and I paid it, he probably thought it was a cut and dry sort of thing and suggested getting my son in treatment right away, which we did. Of course, that didn’t last, he became homeless in another state, was on a drug binge, got arrested and jailed for misdemeanors in that state (lots of disorderly conduct), missed his court date with the lawyer, and was extradited back to the original state.

I contacted NAMI in that county and the mental health professional tried to assure me that if my son was exhibiting symptoms of psychosis, those in charge would surely notice. Right.

I just emailed the jailer as I couldn’t get past two rings then silence, on the jail phone. I explained the situation and asked him to refer my son to the proper person for an evaluation. If I have to I’ll hire an advocate if I can find one. I don’t want to beg to get the representation my son needs and I shouldn’t have to. I am spent.

Thank you good vibes for your comment and welcome, though sorry you have to be here.
That is good you emailed the jailer. You need to be absolutely specific in documenting what you’ve observed/heard. The deterioration. If it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist. Once it’s written it can’t be ignored. Correspondence is monitored. There can be investigations. Don’t worry if they get mad. Your son needs you to advocate for him.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Also put your concerns in writing to the lawyer. Don’t let him/her ignore you. This is pertinent to the case. Their representing your son. That includes his welfare. If they work by a set fee, it is not your problem.
 

Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
he told me it was the drugs and it can take months to come out of. And that he had a similar situation with a client who got evaluated and it was found to be drugs so there was nothing they could do.
I'm at a lose here. So if someone becomes psychotic because of drug use then it's okay for them to remain that way? As if it's there fault on their part so let them suffer? What is someone who is psychotic to learn from anything like this? To what extent does this make any sense morally, legally, logically? I hate to say it but even though that idjat lawyer has been paid for, I think I'd be looking for someone else more connected to reality to advocate for your son's care.

I could be wrong, because my son's psychosis has not been from drugs, but I think even if Meth is involved in the psychosis then the person is in dire need of psychological treatment in order to get them out of this psychosis, period. It's not something to let go for however long, just see if it resolves itself because of what they did. To me an analogy would be ~ say someone jumped off of a wall so high where most people would know they might break their leg. And because most people would know it's not a good idea, the person who jumped was left to deal for weeks and months with a broken leg, with no treatment. Makes no sense.
 

BusynMember1

Well-Known Member
When Rick was in college he had a Corrections job at night. I asked him about mental health there and according to him, and Rick is much sharper than the average cookie, in the state where he went to college, he was alarmed at how many inmates who were obviously mentally off were untreated or punished. He went to college in a very conservative state and the mindset there was that they don't put up with that nonsense.

Each state can be very different from one another. From living for a few years in CA I believe that CA does more than anyplace else I have lived. Lots of services and some are very unique. So you are lucky (or nor lucky depending on what you care about) if you live in CA.

If you have the means to do so, I would talk to another lawyer with the possible motive of getting your son more help. Talk to a few, if some give free first sessions. Find out how much a lawyer can actually do in your state. Don't pay for what can't happen. Just educate yourself all you can and decide. I have lived in states all over the country before we settled down and bought our business. This was long ago, so I am sure things changed. But one thing that is probably still true is that different parts of our country have different ways of thinking about things. Each state even. Know how any lawyer you hire next can best help your son where he is at. Accept nothing less.

A good example of differences in states is that homeless people can sleep in a private person's car where Crayola lives. That shocked me. It's not like that here. After she wrote it we spoke to a family member who.is a cop in a big city here. He looked shocked and said "no."

Make sure you learn about your state, even the county. Noplace else matters regarding your sons case.

Hugs and prayers.
 

Nandina

Member
Thank you Copa, Deni and Busy. I woke up this morning with the same thought, about just getting rid of him and hiring someone else. As I said, I felt like he had been representing my son well—he has been very responsive to every call or text with answers to questions and good advice, or so it seemed. We had met him once at court and we were impressed with him. But of course those things didn’t involve a visit to JAIL to visit a DRUG ADDICT in a different county. (also different state than me.)
Also put your concerns in writing to the lawyer. Don’t let him/her ignore you.
I had planned to do something but I was thinking more like a formal complaint to the legal board after this is all over. And a more immediate formal letter firing his a**. My stress level cannot take fighting with this guy right now. And besides, it is not lost on me that if he can’t be a mental health advocate for my son who is clearly suffering, how adequately will he represent him in court? I’ll just move on and be thankful it wasn’t a small fortune to pay him.
in the state where he went to college, he was alarmed at how many inmates who were obviously mentally off were untreated or punished.
Yes, I heard the same about this jail, that their answer to every inmate disturbance is put them in solitary. I fear that my son will “go off” again and get put back there. It is frightening.
So if someone becomes psychotic because of drug use then it's okay for them to remain that way? As if it's there fault on their part so let them suffer?
I think this lawyer’s only hope for helping my son was that he enter drug treatment. The judge would have looked kindly on that and perhaps saved him from prison or a stiffer sentence. And this guy’s defense lawyer skills would be successful. When that didn’t work and my son became homeless, on the streets and a “fugitive,” lawyers words, (like son is running from the law because he didn’t show up for court—believe me, he was too out of it and probably didn’t know he had a court date!) it seems his attitude changed. Drug addicts are ok as long as they’re getting treatment, I guess, otherwise they don’t seem to count with this guy.

Ya live and ya learn…I will research the next lawyer and interview specifically about my son’s mental health. One problem is it’s a fairly small town and there aren’t a lot of options. Since I’m out of state, I just Googled lawyers in that area, found a firm with great ratings but they didn’t handle criminal cases so referred me to this guy,

Ladies, thanks for the advice and concern. I truly appreciate it. You all are amazing.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
getting rid of him and hiring someone else.

I felt like he had been representing my son well
Dear Nandina

I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater yet. This attorney seems to be seeing his responsibility as within certain boundaries that do not coincide with your son's needs. It may be that he can still represent your son effectively within the boundaries he's set. But we don't know. We have to think about how either to augment the help (how he has defined his role) by seeking other advocates or motivate this person to expand his area of responsibility.
I was thinking more like a formal complaint to the legal board after this is all over.
How will this help you now? Or help your son? Not at all. We have to deal with NOW.
if he can’t be a mental health advocate for my son who is clearly suffering, how adequately will he represent him in court?
This is a good question. We need to find out if he'll represent your son, by putting him on the spot to do so now.

We need to challenge him NOW (or not--in which case you will need to find somebody else--but we don't know yet) to do what he must do or to work with somebody else who is willing to do more. I see this as desirable to firing him outright now. We don't know what he'll do until you challenge him. You don't have any alternative yet. .And because the reality is we don't know if somebody else will do more.

You had mentioned looking for a mental health advocate? How is that going? That would be to do what this attorney is not doing and to work alongside the attorney to support him. Maybe the attorney would have ideas about who could do that. Maybe not.

I guess what I am saying is that this attorney is all you have now. But this attorney needs to step up. How to do that?

Questions. Has there been a response from the jailer? If you haven't heard back from the jailer and you don't have an idea of who might be a paid advocate we're stuck with the attorney for right now. You would need to challenge him. And at the same time open up the search in finding potential alternatives or adjuncts (by an adjunct I mean somebody who can helping the attorney by taking responsibility for the fact your son is decompensating.. Is there a "disability rights" attorney in the area where is the jail or in the state? If not, is there a family attorney who would be willing to take this roles?

You can probably find this out today. Meanwhile, but not right away, until you investigate options, I would start composing a letter to the existing attorney. All of us here can help you with that because I think we are thinking along the same lines.

Basically, my vision of a first-draft of the letter would begin like this:

___________

Dear Attorney

My son has become acutely psychotic since his solitary confinement in the jail. That I know of, he has not been assessed and his psychosis remains untreated. I need your help now, to see that my son is assessed and treated. I fear what will happen to him, if he is not assessed and treated. I believe solitary confinement (and before that homelessness and drug use) have exacerbated a psychosis and other mental health issues that have afflicted my son for a long time. I believe this situation is extremely pertinent to his legal representation, and I am asking of you several things.

One, I am asking for your assistance so that my son receives immediate mental health assessment and treatment. As you know I am out of state. I have advised the jail of my son's condition, and thus far there has been no response. Please let me know in writing how we together we might advocate for my son to be treated immediately.

Second, I see the fact of my son's psychosis and other diagnoses to be central to his inability to have done better in responding to treatment options in the course of this past months. His mental status may also require alternative correctional placement.

I recognize that you are busy and that you may see your role in a different way than I do. What I am requesting is that together we brainstorm to see if we can find a way to meet my son's needs. If you are unavailable or unwilling to respond to the reality of my son's circumstances -- which seem to be that he is becoming gravely disabled without necessary attention -- I need to know that.

I see this as an "access to care" issue. My son is a dependent of the state, locked away in a state where his family cannot help him. How can you help us? Please advise me in writing of what we can do.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

Mrs. and Mr. Nandina

_____________________________________________________

Please don't trust my instincts on this, but I see this as your best shot, right now, given that other options don't yet exist. Let's give this attorney the option to step up and help you. If I received a letter like this, I would respond with my heart. Why not ask others here on the thread what they think because maybe I am wrong.

PS I would include specific and explicit and detailed examples of the concerning behavior (and symptoms) of your son. Word salad, babbling, disorientation, delusions, hallucinations, vulnerability to predators, taking care of basic needs, etc.

Love, Copa
 
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Nandina

Member
Wow. I don’t think you’re wrong at all, Copa. I am a writer by training and I couldn’t have written it better. Thank you. Your unique knowledge of mental health and the prison system expressed in the letter is something I could not have said in the same professional way. Of course any and all ideas are welcomed. This board is such a wealth of information.
I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater yet. This attorney seems to be seeing his responsibility as within certain boundaries that do not coincide with your son's needs
I might have given the wrong impression. I have no intention of firing that lawyer until I have someone to replace him. And the letter to the legal board would be in the aftermath. That doesn’t concern me now.

And yes, the thought that the attorney doesn’t see his role as making visits to the jail, etc. but rather to be present in court for every arraignment, hearing or whatever has occurred to me, and apparently there are many to come. When I told him coming to court requires my husband to take off work, five hour drive each way, hotel stay, etc., he told me there was absolutely no need for us to be there for these preliminary appearances and he would let me know when it was important to be there. He always messages me from court and follows up afterward. I had a thought yesterday that maybe I could have someone else to take care of the mental health side.

I was pretty peeved and stressed yesterday but I am not the type to make major decisions in that state of mind, so I am willing to rethink things.

Some news—I had my husband try the jail from his office since I can’t seem to get through. He got through and found out my son has been seen five times this month for mental health and refuses to take any medication. When have we all heard that before?

I have not heard back from the jailer, and maybe the above is the reason, ie. he can’t talk to me about my adult son’s medical treatment at the jail due to privacy issues.(?) I asked my son to sign the form so I can talk to doctors or get information but he was too out of it to even grasp what I was saying. I’ll keep trying.

If I had been talking to that mental health person my husband spoke to I would have asked what can be done to force son into treatment. My guess is he probably has to be a danger to himself or others. On the other hand, he needs to be of sound mind to stand trial or appear before a judge, and he’s not. Thoughts?

Thanks, again.
Love, Nandina
 

Acacia

Well-Known Member
Nandina, I don't have much to add here, but my heart goes out to you and your son.

Unfortunately, we as a country have so far to go until we gain the wisdom, compassion, and resolve to help those with mental illness and/or addiction rather than just punishing them and increasing their suffering.

Your son is lucky to have you advocating on his behalf. I pray that you are able to find better support and help for him.
 

Nandina

Member
Thank you for your kind words, Acacia.

You are absolutely right about the state of mental health treatment in this country. I was hoping that our new president’s experience with a child’s drug addiction might help further the cause but I’m sure it isn’t a priority right now, due to all the other balls he’s juggling. I am still hopeful because it is an issue close to his heart.

In my son’s case, things had taken a turn for the better. I took the wise advice offered by the people on this forum and wrote the jailer, called mental health offices, and things started moving the end of last week. I started getting phone calls and very kind and compassionate people actually spoke to me and were reassuring that indeed, my son would get the treatment he needed. At that point, it appeared they would try to get him committed to an inmate psychiatric facility. But I would know nothing, because of Hippa laws. That was a little unnerving.

Then an even better turn, out of the blue, my son called me last night! He’s “back.” I was so relieved to hear him speaking and making sense! He was still a little foggy. It was as though he had had amnesia. I’m not sure if he had been given medication but he did mention that someone spoke to him about it. I implored him to take the medication, do whatever he had to do to get healthy and call me as much as he can. Also to sign the consent form so his dad and I can have access to his health information. He said he would take the medications; I don’t think he quite understood about the consent, but I will keep working on him.

He is incredibly naive about the possibility of getting freed from jail. I don’t think with two felonies and a “bail jumping”charge that will happen. I didn’t say that to him last night, though I had mentioned it previously when he was coherent. I keep telling him he has to pay the consequence for his crime, and it’s up to the judge. If he had stayed in the most recent drug treatment after his crime perhaps things would be different. But unfortunately, he chose to behave in ways that got him asked to leave treatment two times in two years.

The one thing we tried to stress in parenting this child his whole life was that when you do wrong you pay a consequence. But we all know how often some of these kids will stop bad behaviors due to potential consequences. In my son’s case, never. He never, ever learned from consequences. I am hoping with maturity this will change (he’s only 20), but only time will tell. He, too, is a victim of his birth mother’s drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy and his brain has obviously been affected.

I would like to continue posting on Nomad’s thread that mentions Heart Strings. I don’t always feel like I can be of assistance to some of the issues presented here since I haven’t experienced them. But the issues in that thread, involving poor prenatal care and baby’s outcome, I feel I could almost write a book on.

Thank you, everyone who reached out to me to offer prayers, support and kindness in one of my saddest moments ever. I pray for the good people on this forum and their children, every day. Bless you all.
 

Acacia

Well-Known Member
I am so happy to hear that things are looking a little more hopeful. The fact that your son is somewhat coherent, you are making some headway with people who can offer good advice and direction is wonderful. We hold onto even the smallest glimmers of hope.

I've had my share of pain as have those who post here. We may not deal with exactly the same circumstances, but what's important is the compassion and wisdom offered.
 

Nandina

Member
Stay tuned…got another phone call. It seems he was groggy yesterday but mentioned something about a mental health worker and medications that he didn’t have yet. Now, after he has sort of “come back,” his old negative attitude about jail has returned. I told him he needs to talk to someone and ask for something to help him as he is still obsessive and angry. His answer, They don’t care…they won’t give him anything…blah blah blah.

Oh well, a mother’s work is never done, right?

I felt bad but I had to tell him to call me back when he can talk about something besides his obsessive love interest.

And I’ll be hounding the jail.

But first I want to have a Merry Christmas. Love to all who are in the same boat.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Baby steps Nandina. Even though he's seeming to backslide a bit, he's shown you that he can pull himself out of the fog.

I think all of us are learning along with our difficult children, how to cope and how to live. I know I am.

You've done everything right, Nandina. You've left no stone unturned. Up until now and going forward. No mother could do more.
 
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