Thursday, March 08, 2007

75-year old mentally ill grandmother stranded, incompetent in Lufkin jail most of 2006

I've been writing for some time about the need for treatment resources for mentally ill county jail inmates who've been declared incompetent to stand trial. Mentally ill people accused of crimes can wait many months for state hospital beds to open up, and local community MHMR centers don't provide competency restoration services. From the Lufkin Daily News, a letter to the editor gives a horrific example of how these problems play out on the ground:
A real miscarriage of justice occurred last year in 2006. A 75-year-old grandmother, with a master's degree in English, was held in the Angelina County jail for over a year. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia for many years of her lifetime. After six months of confinement, she was evaluated, and found to be incompetent — sent to Rusk State Hospital for two months and returned to jail as competent to stand trial. Her case didn't come up for three months — and you guessed it — she was incompetent again. Treatment for the mentally ill in our jails is not adequate, and understandably so. The cost of incarceration is far greater than treatment.


Anonymous said...

nevermind cost - that poor woman! any updates on the advocacy inc suit?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Have heard nothing new on the suit.

The Lege could make it moot, though, by cutting large checks, both for increased hospital beds now, and in the medium to long run to create competency restoration capacity at community outpatient centers.

I'm not sure what's the other option. We've made a policy decision to use prisons and jails to house the mentally ill, so when the bill comes due for that decision, what else is there to do but pay? Front end services are fine in the long run, but these folks are languishing in jail now!

The Homeless Cowboy said...


Instead of paying nurses and doctors to watch over MHMR patients we will now pay guards. Some guards come cheap, for example in Harris County, the white shirt jail guards are not paid a lot. They are hired to be jail guards. The reality is that many jail shifts are worked by off duty sheriffs deputies. I spoke to one in 2008 and at that time he said he made $42.50 per hour to work overtime shifts at the jail. He further stated he was bringing in over 125,000 bucks a year, just doing his regular shifts in the radio car and a few shifts a week in the jail and there were a lot of other deputies doing the same. I hear that they have made some changes but guys like him with 20 years seniority will still get their shifts and retire quite comfortably. While we keep sending people to be warehoused in these facilities. Medication is prescribed and the inmates (Patients) sleep and eat till they figure out what to do with them. Its really sad I saw it first hand in 2008.