Jail staff often get frustrated when typical tactics fail to compel desired results. They mistakenly diagnos the mentally ill inmate as a hardened criminal. They often ramp up their efforts and the confrontation only deepens the frustration of the jailer, and deepens the delusional parannoia of the psychotic person caught in a criminal world.
Cognitive Dissonance -
Some people will never understand mental illness. Their own mind lacks the necessary capacity to understand a world where a brain doesn't process properly. Most people do begin to understand it when a close family member is stricken with severe mental illness. I know... I was one of those who didn't 'get it' until someone I love was stricken.
NAMI Tulsa Committee On Incarceration Policy & Procedure
NAMI Tulsa has just formed a special committee to study the problems with the Tulsa Jail regarding incarceration policy & procedure. We would like to learn from families impacted by their interaction with the Tulsa County jail. If you have information to share, you can reach the NAMI Tulsa IPP Committee at IPP@NamiTulsa.org.
If a coherent person enters the jail population with a diabetic disorder, he or she can tell the staff at the outset and they almost certainly will be tested and given daily treatment for the life-threatening condition. To withhold insulin to a diabetic inmate is unconstitutional cruel punishment even when a suspect is guilty of a crime. The Pancreas is a body organ which can get out of balance and/or quit working normally. Diabetes is a pancreas disorder.
Severe Mental Illness is a result of a brain disorder. Instability of brain chemistry is usually the underlying cause. This is sometimes a dangerous and deadly condition. When the brain instability is effectively treated, the patient usually regains coherent stability and their personality returns to a similitude of their former self. They are still a long way from recovered, but they are at least spared the psychosis which endangers them and everyone around them. You can't fake a severe brain disorder. Trained professionals will always eventually catch it.
One mother recently called me to explain how her mentally ill adult son was recently incarcerated for a nonviolent charge. He had been hospitalized just weeks prior at a local mental health center for a psychotic condition which was being treated with medication which had been effective for the past 15 years. The ill man had a long history of documented health problems and had been legally deemed disabled since age 21.
When the mother made repeated calls to the jail administration to explain the son's crucial need for daily medication to treat his psychosis and the dangerous behavior it triggers, she was verbally discredited. When she explained his long history, lists of hospitals, doctors, medications, and being on Medicare disability since age 21, they still made no commitment to look into the matter. When she described his Bipolar diagnosis, they finally said;
"Yeah, they all claim to be bipolar."
What transpired over the next 5 weeks was a form of cruelty which no one should be subjected to. Meds were not given until after several physical alterations which endangered this ill man as well as other inmates and the jail staff. Eventually his injuries added up and he was suspected of having broken bones. An ambulance was then ordered so he could be transported to an emergency medical facility.
But Jail administrators cancelled the ambulance citing the expense as "not necessary" and they stuck the man into the back of a squad car to the nearest hospital emergency room. The medical personnel at OSU Regional Hospital was shocked at the treatment of the man whom they'd just diagnosed with a broken neck, broken lower spine, and broken pelvis.
The staff at OSU Regional then determined he needed more specialized care than their facility was equipped for, and decided to transfer the inmate to another medical facility via ambulance. Again, the sheriff's administration insisted on taking this man off the gurney and putting him back into a squad car for another car ride without medical personnel handling him. the OSU Regional staff dug in their heels and eventually the deputies of the sheriff relented and the patient was safely transported without incident.
Now, any reasonable jail medical staff would have consulted patient medical history when a mother comes forward with her plea. The man should have either been given psychiatric meds which his doctors had deemed effective for him. If the psychotic man had refused the meds, the sheriff's office should have sought a judge's immediate order for psychiatric detention and assessment at a mental health state facility. If the assessment determines psychosis, the man is ordered into mandatory treatment in a clinical facility until stable enough to return to the criminal justice process, to face the charges which landed him in the jail.
But instead, Sheriff Regalado and the District Attorney's office dropped all criminal charges (he had been held on a $100K bond).When news media representatives asked about the danger to the community, Regalado dismissed the concern citing the broken spine and pelvis as a sufficient preventative. The man was released into the community but the sheriff had accomplished his objective of being spared the medical costs of the hospital stay.
The man did spend a short time in the hospital before returning to his apartment. But just a few weeks later, the man was again in trouble with the law. Still showing signs of bipolar disorder being out of control, the man was in a police chase in Bartlesville which significantly endangered the people of Washington County. And this incident may never have happened if Tulsa Sheriff Regalado had truly acknowledged the mental health crisis at the outset, or at least after the several broken bones.
Ziva Branstetter of The Frontier has followed this story for several weeks and has had to file a lawsuit to get video footage of the various claimed story lines which the jail staff has cited as causing the severe injuries. Regalado and his advisors (Terry Simonson is one of them) has determined to fight the effort at transparency and according to reports, one incidence of the man falling down a flight of stairs while being moved by jail staff, is mysteriously not available even if a judge orders the release of video.
When the man was released from the jail, it took weeks for his family to get his jail records. The timeline should have been immediately available when he was transferred to a medical emergency facility. Family again had to fight for weeks to get transparency.