Hello AIMI members and visitors. The five links and news story below about Hector Rodriguez illustrate the importance of advocacy for treatment as opposed to punishment. The nation's prison rolls are swollen with 1.25 million mentally ill Americans. Prison costs over $50 billion per year. Although jail worsens mental health, especially solitary confinement, no expense is spared in the USA to punish people for actions caused by mental illness. On the other hand, the shortage of mental hospital beds is so critical that there is no room when courts order sick people into treatment rather than sentencing them to prison. Mr. Rodriguez's story is below.
York Daily Record - Oct 23, 2010 - York, PA - www.ydr.com/ci_16416185 Hector Rodriguez is stuck in prison because there s no room at a state mental hospital. His case shows how the system is overloaded.
This summer, Hector Francisco Rodriguez was living in a North York mental health care facility under a court order because his doctors deemed the 19-year-old to be an immediate danger to himself and others.
On Sept. 2, police allege, Rodriguez, mentally disabled and diagnosed with schizophrenia, confirmed the court's fears.
He walked down the hallway of Northwestern Human Services and screamed something threatening, according to court documents. A psychotherapist tried to calm him down, but Rodriguez punched him in the face and struck his hand with a pen, breaking the skin.
When another Northwestern employee opened a locked door to aid the psychotherapist, court records show, Rodriguez fled, first the secured area and then the building. Police arrested him soon after in York's Fireside neighborhood and charged him with aggravated assault, simple assault and escape.
Rodriguez has been in York County Prison ever since, even though a judge ordered more than a month ago that he be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment and evaluation.
His mother is confused and upset. She knows her son needs help, but she's afraid he's not getting it.
"I understand he did something, but it's not because he wanted to do it," Rosemary Ubiles said. "It's because he's sick. Why do you punish someone for having a health condition?" (See the entire article at the link above.)
The answer to Rosemary's question is YES. Not only are mentally ill Americans punished with imprisonment for being sick, but many of them are killed for that reason. Each year, mentally ill Americans are shot or Tasered by police officers. Some die in cruel restraint chairs, and others are beaten to death by jail guards. Acute mental patients are also abused or killed by bullies in their communities who find their mental imbalance entertaining. The United States Department of Justice is charged with upholding the rights of Americans with disabilities and protecting institutionalized persons, but the government agency refuses to do either when it comes to mental patients. See the petition for the USDOJ to please do the job Americans pay taxes for the government agency to do and investigate my brother's secret arrest and murder at this link - http://www.petitiononline.com/Neal/petition.html - and see the website about my murdered brother at http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/ - Mentally ill people who are black, Hispanic, or from white families that lack wealth are ordinarily deprived of treatment that could restore many of them to wholesome lives. Instead, they are seemingly reserved untreated to become future prisoners of America after committing some avoidable crime.
Mental illness was criminalized to enrich prison owners and investors. Mentally ill Americans will continue to be imprisoned rather than treated in hospitals and community care programs (depending on their conditions) until enough concerned voters say, "That's enough." One way to do that is to support H.R.619, a federal bill to reinstate Medicaid for inpatient treatment for mental hospitals. See more about H.R.619 at this link: http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1438137 The national health reform bill that Congress passed early in 2010 included NO provisions for mental health insurance for inpatients.
Thank you for giving ASSISTANCE TO THE INCARCERATED MENTALLY ILL. Please invite your friends to this group, write your representatives about this issue, and read more about victims of the injustice system in my blog. http://FreeSpeakBlog.blogspot.com
This post was modified from its original form on 30 Oct, 12:32
Below is a photo of Hector Rodriguez. The schizophrenic man is in prison because there is no room for him at a mental hospital, which is where he was ordered by the court to receive treatment. Jails became America's alternative to mental hospitals in the 1970's when private prisons became a major business enterprise.
I am so so sorry to hear this & wish something can be done for him to get the help he needs. This touches home as my nephew, Kenneth Hendricks was living with me & stopped taking his meds so I had to call 911... when the authorities came to take him to the hospital they said if they couldn't find a bed for him they would send him to jail cause I couldn't handle him here... I didn't believe it & I am glad he is in a mental hospital getting the help he needs. Will pray for him.
Now my son is in jail again... he hasn't been diagnosed with anything... but he is very depressed now & wants to end his life here... What to do... I will be writing the judge as he has a court date on the 16th. He wants penpals so please write if you can: Michael Olson PO BOX 727 Mariposa, CA 95338.
Thank you ~ Maria
Thanks, Maria, for your input. I am sorry to that your son, Michael, is suffering depression behind bars. I will write to your son and ask other AIMI members and visitors to also write Michael Olson at PO BOX 727 Mariposa, CA 95338. He needs to know that people care about him and suicide is not the answer.
As you know, Maria, AIMI members believe it is a crime against humanity to imprison people for being sick, especially in cruel solitary confinement, which is known to cause mental illness. Ironically, over 60% of inmates in solitary in U.S. prisons and jails are acute mental patients who have little or no control over their behavior and should be hospitalized and treated, not jailed and punished for being sick. Your son is depressed and threatening suicide. When you write the judge about Michael's condition, he may be isolated, which may save his life but worsen his mental health. Nevertheless, you should write the judge and the administrator over Micheal's correctional facility about his suicidal threats. You would rather see Michael in solitary confinement than dead by his own hand. I am very distressed that this is happening to your family, and will pray for you and offer whatever support I can give.
I was also sorry to read that your nephew, Kenneth, experienced a mental health crisis. We rejoice with you that Kenneth was hospitalized rather than imprisoned. I hope that when Kenneth leaves the hospital, he is ordered into an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program. AOT programs, such as Kendra's Law, combine enforced treatment with subsistence assistance. Program participants experienced over 85% reduction in homelessness, arrests, hospitalizations, and imprisonment compared to their lives three years prior to joining the program.
Maria, please find out if AOT programs are being used in your state, and if they are, try to have Kenneth released to such a program when he is stabilized. Otherwise, Kenneth will continue to be caught in the revolving door in and out of hospitals and prisons like millions of America's mental patients are. The unfortunate truth is that many acute mental patients like Kenneth make unwise treatment decisions and stop taking their psychiatric medications when given the choice. Lack of psychiatric treatment causes psychiatric crises that often lead to avoidable crimes, homelessness, as well as hospitalization and imprisonment - all of which are more more traumatic for patients and their families and more costly for taxpayers than community treatment and subsistence under an AOT program would be.
Acute mental illness is a chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease, but sick people are criminalized for having that health condition in America. Psychiatric patients from poor and middle class families are regularly punished with cruel incarceration, and some are killed, like Tim Sauders and my brother Larry Neal. I borrow President Obama's words regarding Burma: "Faced with such gross violations of human rights, it is the responsibility of the international community, especially leaders like the United States and India, to condemn it."