Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Am I A Bad Person?" Family Members Ask

Families in Mental Health Crisis, what are your greatest fears about your relatives with serious mental illness (SMI)? Suicide? Police violence? Incarceration? Homelessness? Violent outbursts during which you or others could be harmed? All of these are VALID concerns. Many families who find no help for their relatives with SMI give up and suffer from guilt because of their abandonment. I wrote an article some time ago called "Am I a Bad Person?" about a sister who had given up on her schizophrenic brother. People need and deserve assistance with sick loved ones. Therefore, we must support H.R.3717 "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act," introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy. 

This article was emailed to to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com, on April 14, 2015, well ahead of the June 9 deadline for public comment regarding the president's conversation about resuming Medicaid for inpatient treatment of mental diseases. Medicaid insurance coverage for mentally ill Americans never should have ended, and it would not have ended had it not been for people seeking increased wealth through private prisons and jails, where over half of America's inmates are mentally ill people who were denied treatment in order to criminalize their mental illness. I encourage everyone who reads this article to also email Armour and support the resumption of Medicaid insurance for mental illnesses. While the nation passed national health care insurance, it is scandalous that people with mental illness would be completely omitted in order to continue extracting prison profits from taxpayers. If you need help composing an email supporting the resumption of Medicaid insurance, please send Armour a link to this article from our "Dog Justice for Mentally Ill" blog, which is

I wrote: Ms. Armour, please accept the following article in support of the resumption of Medicaid insurance for persons with mental illness in the United States of America. Please confirm receipt by sending a confirmation to each of my three email addresses above (my Internet communication is compromised as I am an advocate for the People who are used for prison profits). Thank you in advance.

Adults with SMI need assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs that provide continuous monitoring and psychiatric care and subsistence assistance for food and housing. They need police officers need crisis intervention team (CIT) training in order to conduct lunacy arrests without violence to the patients or themselves. Like any chronic illness, people with SMI may need inpatient treatment from time to time. H.R.3717 also provides for more inpatient hospital beds by resuming Medicaid insurance for certain mental health care facilities. Join us in giving Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill and also help people who are at greater risk for incarceration due to SMI. Below is a modified version of my article, "Am I a Bad Person?"

Am I a Bad Person?

1)  A woman wrote to WAGblog seeking reassurance that she is not a "bad person" because she gave up trying to care for her severely mentally disturbed brother after their parents died. Letting go is hard. Even when a caregiver feels she has to break ties to protect herself or have a life aside from being a caregiver, one never truly lets go. Love is a binding tie. 

2)  People who discontinue caring for an adult with acute mental illness should not feel guilty. It is very challenging to protect acute mental patients from themselves and save them from being victimized in a world where they are considered least. Our system too often withholds treatment until AFTER crimes, then imprisons rather than hospitalize sick people. For some families, this creates an element of danger. That was the case for Theresa. Oregon built a new mental hospital since Theresa's horrible death at her brother's hand.

3)  My mother struggled with my brother, Larry, for many years after he was "deinstitutionalized" along with hundreds of thousands of acute mental patients who were released in the 70s. Larry was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before puberty following a mumps infection that apparently went into his brain. He lived mostly in a mental hospital for over 20 years. His trial visits home never worked out for long, yet he was eventually evicted when Medicaid became unavailable for psychiatric inpatients. For over a decade after hospital release, Larry resided with his family. Larry was non-violent, but his actions put him in serious danger. We were unsuccessful in attempts to have Larry re-committed except for short-term crisis intervention.

4)  One day, Larry was walking by a neighbor's home and heard a baby crying. We have many nieces and nephews. Larry thought the baby was asking him for comfort, so he climbed into the nursery window to attend to the baby. Luckily, the homeowner did not panic and kill Larry. Can you imaging going into your baby's nursery and seeing a strange-looking man you don't know rocking your child? The baby was safe with Larry. He was not as delusional as the Arizona man in this article: "Murder for Christmas: Schizophrenic Man Bludgeoned Youngsters." After the nursery incident, Larry was sent to the hospital briefly.

5)  Larry's family could not protect him from the situations his mental imbalance created after hospital release made him "free." It was particularly hard for my mother to let go, but she was getting old and was very concerned for Larry's safety. Our congressman helped to arrange for Larry to become a ward of the State and live in a care home. Unfortunately, care homes have minimal rules. Patients are not forced to take their meds and they can come and go as they see fit. Sometimes, patients who are in care homes really need to be in a hospital, like the man who stabbed a New York baby while the child's nanny took her on a walk: www.nytimes.com/2005/09/08/nyregion/08baby.html - but the hospitals are closing.

6)  Making Larry a ward of the State was not the solution that we hoped it would be. Larry was not dangerous to others, or he might have been re-committed. He had a toothless grin and a song, if you had time to listen, for everyone he saw. Then he would recite long historical documents or Bible verses very loud. He would immediately share the money we gave him, then beg others for handouts, which is illegal. According to the law, Larry should have qualified for hospitalization because of the danger he was to himself, but that did not happen. He was a "frequent flyer" in Memphis Shelby County Jail, which would call his family or social worker when he was arrested for misdemeanors, such as public nuisance charges. That happened in July 2003, when he spat on a nurse who was taking Larry's blood pressure. He said the cuff was too tight, and his mind had not progressed much beyond age 8 when he initially contracted mental illness.

7)  Incarceration is a usual outcome for people with advanced mental illness like Larry. He suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Prisons have replaced hospitals and community treatment centers for mentally challenged people in America. There are now 1.25 million mentally ill people incarcerated, and they comprise 60 percent of inmates in cruel solitary confinement. Gas, restraint chairs, and Tasers are used to control them. Some are killed. Once arrested, mental patients often get time added because they do not understand or lack the wherewithal to obey the correctional facility's rules of behavior. Sometimes, prisons keep them just because. That happened to Nick Sauve, Terrell Scott, and many others. Some are warehoused in jails and prisons for many years with trials denied.

8)  Larry Neal felt that he had a schedule to keep that involved walking about 10 miles a day. Once he got hit by a car crossing a major street. As soon as he was able, Larry was back on his route. He would begin by having breakfast with one of our brothers. From there, he would walk several miles to McDonald's where they allowed him to sit for hours over a few cups of coffee. Then he would go to a recreation center that may have been especially for acute mental patients like Larry, but it is closed now. In any case, he would go there and watch TV, shoot pool, etc. 

9) The center Larry frequented had an attendant to monitor the patrons, so Larry felt safe there despite his paranoia. The problem is that Larry would walk those 10 miles to keep his "appointments" without dressing properly for the winter. He got pneumonia repeatedly. Once, when he was just out of ICU for pneumonia, he left the hospital and walked about 5 miles to have his usual breakfast with our brother wearing only a hospital gown (the back was open) and paper shoes in sub-freezing weather.

10)  At one point, Larry was transferred to a home much further from his "route," but he walked approximately 20 miles round-trip to keep his imaginary appointments. Larry's hospital bills for numerous bouts of pneumonia and being hit by a car, plus his misdemeanor arrests for inappropriate behavior were probably no less expensive than hospital commitment. Taxpayers saved no money when mental illness was made a crime. Taxpayers pay from $15,000 to $168,000 annually to warehouse each inmate, and up to three times as much for those who are in solitary confinement, like death row prisoners are and inmates with acute mental illness and other diseases. Lifelong schizophrenic patient Jeremy Smith has been in "the hole" for years, and he recently faced life in prison for talking rudely to a prison guard. He was accused of making a "terrorist threat."

11)  Approximately 1 in 5 Americans has some form of mental illness, and most people function well under treatment like people with any other chronic health condition, such as diabetes. However, some acute patients need constant supervision in a facility with a trained, compassionate staff. Patients in that category are not necessarily dangerous, but they endanger themselves. Larry asked a lady for a dollar one day, and the way he phrased it - "Gimme a dollar, lady. Come on, I know you've got a dollar; gimme a dollar" - made her feel like she was being robbed. Things like that get mentally ill people arrested. 

12)  Sometimes mentally ill people are picked on by bullies in their communities who find their conditions amusing. One homeless mentally ill veteran in California was doused in gasoline and set afire. He burned to death. In 2014, a man shot two homeless men to death as they slept on the ground in Atlanta. Homelessness is a usual outcome for acute mental patients after their families give up trying to keep them. Consider a case in Florida when one homeless mental patient killed another. Violence on the homeless often involves a mentally ill victim.

13)  The availability of hospital space for non-violent mental patients became pretty much non-existent after Medicaid funding for inpatient treatment ended decades ago. Hospitals across the country downsized dramatically or closed altogether. Although Larry would be sent to the hospital to be stabilized during a crisis, he never stayed over a month, and usually much less. Hospital closures continue nationwide. Meanwhile, our prison population swells as acute mental patients eventually do something to qualify for arrests - offenses from simple vagrancy to gruesome murders. DOES THIS YOUNG WOMAN BELONG IN PRISON? SEE a film I call "Bipolar Crisis on Atlanta MARTA Train" at this link:

14)  Approximately 1.25 million mental patients are imprisoned today, which means there is no savings for taxpayers in punishing sick people for having mental dysfunctions rather than hospitalizing them or providing community-based care. But it is much worse for the patients to be imprisoned rather than hospitalized, as police officers lack the training and some lack the temperament to be psychiatric caretakers. Consider how my brother died under secret arrest, described in his website at the following url:

15)  Remember Tim Souders' death in a Michigan prison while on a restraint table for four days without food or water. Maybe they forgot him. Souders' death is presented in this television documentary - a "60 Minutes" presentation:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/08/60minutes/main2448074.shtml - 

16)  In Tennessee, Frank Horton's life was spared by a benevolent guard. Frank had been in solitary confinement cell for nine months without medical or psychiatric attention, exercise, or hygiene. The floor to his solitary prison cell was covered with feces and urine, and he likely would have died if the guard had not reported his dangerous circumstances to the Department of Health.

17)  Mental hospitals are sorely missed. Many prisoners suffer since mental illness was criminalized. It does not have to be this way. It is less expensive to treat sick people than to punish them for having a common health condition, and many can be restored to wholesome lives. Please join Treatment Advocacy Center, AIMI, and other mental health advocacy organizations in supporting H.R.3717, a congressional bill to do the following on a limited basis:
    (1) enact assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs that mandate continuous treatment and give subsistence assistance; 
    (2) provide for crisis intervention training for police officers and prison guards to avoid violence against the mentally ill; and 
    (3) resume Medicaid insurance for mental hospitalization. 

18)  There are other provisions of H.R.3717. Read them all online. PLEASE ASK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES TO SUPPORT H.R.3717 - "The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" - which was introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) in December 2013. He is a former psychologist who understands mental illness.

19)  We sympathize with the sister who wrote the comment at WAGBlog about having to give up being caretaker for her brother. The burden on families is great. That is why I feel certain that once the 10 million family members and human rights advocates know about H.R.3717, they will gladly support the bill. We must let Americans know that an alternative to criminalizing mental illness is available. I hope you will help by sharing the news. There is opposition to the bill that would affect private prison profits, so it will take effort on our parts. H.R.3717 could possibly save billions of dollars annually on America's prison bill, which is currently around $100 billion per year. Prison investors' earnings are compounded by possibly hundreds of billions more from prison slave labor, which is sold to major corporations and deprives "free" Americans of jobs at minimum wage, union scale wages and benefits. When I checked, H.R.3717 had 77 co-sponsors who were Republicans, but only 38 co-sponsors were Democrats (115 total). 

20)  Study the states that have representatives refusing to co-sponsor H.R.3717, and notice if mentally ill people are brutalized or killed under the color of law in those states (by untrained police or correctional officers in jails and prisons). No accurate count is available, but "Killed by Police (dot) net" is a website that attempts to inform the public of police killings by using news reports. Be aware of the fact that many deaths by police are censored; therefore, whereas "Killed by Police (dot) net" is more accurate than the FBI tally, the true number of casualties is unknown: http://killedbypolice.net

21)  In addition to police killings, many mentally ill people die in custody by murder, neglect, and natural causes. Those deaths are NOT reported on "Killed by Police (dot) net," and some of them may not be reported anywhere at all. For instance, Larry Neal's secret arrest and his murder, which happened after 18 days of incarceration, remain America's secret. Christopher Lopez was dead for 17 months before San Carlos Correctional Facility in Colorado reported his demise to the Department of Health (Lopez was another mentally ill inmate). Brenda Anderson, a released prisoner from Texas, reports that the murder of a female mentally ill inmate named Mary was not reported to her family until they tried to visit her on Mother's Day, weeks after her demise.

22)  Acute mental illness affects all people in our society whether or not someone with that condition is a relative or close friend. Acute mental illness is the only health disability that is criminalized and punishable by imprisonment, and that usually happens AFTER a patient has proved to be a danger to self and others through some violent act. Save money, increase community safety, and restore hundreds of thousands of Americans to more wholesome lives by helping to pass H.R.3717. Please read H.R.3717 and review more information about its status, co-sponsors, etc., at http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-bill/3717

23)  Subcommittee hearings were held on H.R.3717 on April 3, 2015. While we hope for passage of that bill, we must also recognize that there are individual mental patients and families who have already suffered irreparable damage by the system's callous disregard for mentally disabled people's civil and human rights. Throughout the nation, families suffered Legal Abuse Syndrome (LAS) from their vain efforts to extract their vulnerable loved ones from the justice system. Mental capacity diminished for many mentally ill people who were held in solitary confinement torture for years, and some for decades. Others have wandered the streets homeless, dodging arrest for vagrancy, eating out of the trash. Thousands were killed. H.R.3717 proposes positive changes for hereon, but what of those who have already been irreparably harmed? That is where "AIMI vs. USA" lawsuit in International Court will help, if the lawsuit is successful. 

24) LEGAL ABUSE SYNDROME (LAS) is a form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a psychic injury, not a mental illness. It is a personal injury that develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. In the law, people with mental disabilities are protected from the brutality and murders they suffer by the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), the Civil Rights Act, the Convention Against Torture, and Executive Order 13107, implementing human rights treaties. Families are shocked and stressed when they learn that those protections are not actually applied to their mentally challenged loved ones, which is fraud. Protracted litigation leading to LAS often results in physical as well as psychological damages to the affected parties, especially to mothers of mentally ill teens and adults who are jailed rather than treated. 

25)  Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill plans to file "AIMI vs. USA" in 2015 to win restitution for mentally ill Americans and immigrants who were negligently and/or cruelly treated under the color of law in America. Health discrimination causes great pain and suffering, and it yet continues throughout the country. "AIMI vs. USA" is suing only for money, much of which will be used to compensate up to 100 mentally ill claimants for their negligence and abuse and compensate their family members or next friends who suffer from Legal Abuse Syndrome or who are due compensation for wrongful deaths. 

26)  Most mothers like mine take their adult children's mistreatment particularly hard. For instance, Terrell Scott's mother had a heart attack when she was only in her 40's due to the stress she endures trying to prove her son's innocence and extract him from prison. Scott has been incarcerated nearly six years but is denied a trial in the Pennsylvania. Holly Alston has suffered through her son's rape, his suicide attempts to escape being treated worse than a dog, his exposure to HIV virus, as well as Scott's severe beatings by other inmates, which blinded him in one eye, dislocated his jaw, and rendered him without hearing in one ear. These injuries were incurred in beatings which prison guards allegedly ignored. 

27)  Some mothers nearly die from Legal Abuse Syndrome stress, and most are unable to give their spouses and younger children the kind of home they would have if not for their older children's mental illness being criminalized rather than addressed like other chronic health conditions with treatment and not punishment. Incarcerating the most vulnerable member of one's family is hard on everyone, and killing sick people leaves many grieving survivors, probably most of whom have never been compensated for wrongful deaths. My family never was.

28)  People who have been victimized by untreated mentally ill people are also invited to join "AIMI vs. USA," like the families of six people who were killed in Santa Barbara, California after parents reported to police that their son was dangerous. "AIMI vs. USA" also accepts claimants who are police officers' survivors. For example, Olga Garcia's son, Robles, was incarcerated for 14 days in Texas, during which time guards refused to administer his psychotropic meds. Then he was beaten and released from jail in physical pain as well as psychiatric crisis. The sudden withdrawal of his medication negatively impacted Robles. Before that arrest, Robles was a happy young father who had just completed barbering college. But within 12 hours of jail release, Robles shot and killed a police officer. Robles' mother is a claimant to "AIMI vs. USA," and the family of the slain police officer can be, also.

29) A Wall Street Journal article reports that the United States President is interested in recieving public comments regarding resumption of Medicaid insurance for psychiatric inpatients, which would make it possible for mental hospitals to have more beds, and fewer people would be incarcerated or killed during lunacy arrests for lack of proper psychiatric treatment. Write to Stephanie Armour at the Wall Street Journal before June 9. Please email your support for resuming Medicaid to treat mental illness and drug addictions at the same rate as physical health problems. http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-administration-proposes-rules-for-medicaid-mental-health-parity-1428362172

30)  Thanks in advance for all that you do to help give Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill and reduce the risk of arrest for vulnerable persons. A life is a terrible thing to waste. We need success for H.R.3717 - "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" to help restore sick people to wholesome living , and need success for "AIMI vs. USA" in order to compensate people for damages already incurred. Sharing the information in this article is one way to help give "Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill" and those at greater risk of incarceration due to their "illegal" health condition, for which most of them were denied treatment prior to their alleged offenses.

31)  Our sincere regards go to the sister who commented at Pam Wagner's blog about  abandoning her role as the caretaker for her schizophrenic brother. Many people who love their sick relatives find themselves in similar situations - having to give up on a loved one for their own protection. It is a grossly unfair predicament that would be unnecessary if AOT programs and Medicaid insurance for psychiatric inpatients were possible throughout the country. Please visit Pam Wagner's blog today for moving visual art, poetry, and articles revealing the challenges of schizoaffective disorder at the url, http://pamelaspirowagner.com/

Mary Neal, Director of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
Phone 678.531.0262 or (571)335-1741
(If I get your voice message or email, I will respond within 24 hours; if not, please try again. Communication is challenging around these issues.)

No dog owners can leave their canines locked in small dog houses 23 hours per day, then spray them with chemicals or Taser them for whimpering and barking.
Mentally Ill People Deserve Dog Justice!
This article contains 31 numbered paragraphs, 14 urls and 3 email addresses. I count them because unlike lobbyists for big corporations, YOUR representatives -- human rights advocates -- are censored in the United States of America.

Repeat of Paragraph 1: Families in Mental Health Crisis, what are your greatest fears about your relatives with serious mental illness (SMI)? Suicide? Police violence? Incarceration? Homelessness? Violent outbursts during which you or others could be harmed? All of these are VALID concerns. Many families who find no help for their relatives with SMI give up and suffer from guilt because of their abandonment. I wrote an article some time ago called "Am I a Bad Person?" about a sister who had given up on her schizophrenic brother. People need and deserve assistance with sick loved ones. Therefore, we must support H.R.3717 "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act," introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy.


This blog carries information about the "AIMI vs. USA" action in International Court against the USA to compensate claimants for discrimination against mentally ill people in the USA and drug/alcohol addicts: "AIMI vs. the USA in International Court."

Claimants conferences are held on the first full weekend of each month, on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time. You can connect with the conferences at FreeConferenceCall dial-in number (605)562-0020, Meeting I.D. Code: 992-212-650. If that fails, the backup number is (805)360-1075. Learn more about this international action to win restitution for Claimants and change for America. If you experience problems connecting, call and report problems to the director, Mary Neal.

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