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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mentally ill inmates trapped in 'vicious cycle,' says Morgan sheriff, Decatur Daily, Sheriff

The bloggers comments will be in red below the paragraph in which they are responding to.
Some people in north Alabama who suffer from mental illness are in and out of county jails as part of a "vicious cycle," a county sheriff said.
Just last week, 87 people with a history of mental health problems were detained in Morgan County Jail, where the bill for psychiatric drugs is about $1,500 per month and as much as half the staff deals with mentally ill patients, records show.
Sheriff Ana Franklin you should be ashamed of yourself.  You left one severely mentally ill woman lingering in your jail for over seven months in the general population with NO MEDICATION.  Thank God Judge Thompson sent this woman for long term mental treatment and got her out of your clutches.  You have no shame.
The jail averages about 400 inmates.
The mentally ill inmates are jailed on charges ranging from murder to misdemeanors, and each has, at some point, required individual supervision from one or more guards, Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said.
Mentally ill inmates who potentially are a danger to themselves or others may be taken to Decatur Morgan Hospital, where they remain under the supervision of an armed guard, or they can be housed in a single-cell observation unit at the jail. 
Another lie.  You left the lady I am speaking off the general population to be laughed at and ridiculed for 6 1/2 months.  The last two weeks she was there you placed her alone in a holding cell ONLY because she was writing letters to the FBI and you wanted every letter she wrote brought to you before they went out of the jail.  I know I have many of the letters this lady wrote that you received showing how mentally ill she was.  SHAME ON YOU.
With the average wait for a trial in felony cases at more than a year, many of those patients are jailed for extended periods.
“We aren’t psychiatrists; we’re law enforcement,” Franklin said. “But we’re having to house these people, and we can’t even force them to take the medication that will make them better.”
You stated in previous Decatur Daily articles that you have a mental pod with 24X7 qualified care givers.  Surely those caregivers are qualified to ensure the inmates take their medications.  Are you lying now or were you lying then.
Of the 22 guards assigned to each shift at the jail, sometimes 10 are dealing specifically with mentally ill inmates, who also may be housed in a special dorm for those with behavioral problems.
What special dorm?  You do not have a mental pod with 24X7 qualified care givers and you never have 22 corrections officer on duty on any given night..
Mentally ill inmates have access to counselors every day, a psychiatric nurse twice a week and a psychiatrist once every two months.
Are these the same nurses and doctor that was on duty when Mr. Martinez feel ill and died after lingering in your jail for approximately 21 days of none treatment? 
“But even if we get them straight and on their medication, the problem is they lose all their government services, like Social Security, Medicaid, other welfare, when they become incarcerated,” Franklin said. “Many of them are indigent or not working, and when they get out of jail it can take months to get those services resumed.”
They lose their benefits; however once out of jail they regain their benefits.  Process as many in and out in as you can to ensure their family can get them proper treatment.  
Franklin said that creates a “revolving door” of incarceration when the patients go untreated and end up committing crimes again.
Franklin, SEND THEM FOR TREATMENT.  If they are becoming a revolving door you can request the courts for mandatory treatment.  How long have you been sheriff?  
"It's a vicious cycle," she said.
The large number of mentally ill inmates is in part a result of the closing of mental health treatment facilities across the state and locally, including most recently the shuttering of North Alabama Regional Hospital. Local and state funding for such facilities has been cut or eliminated, in part to save on expenses.
So! You, out of the kindness of your heart, are keeping them in jail so they can not use their Social Security Benefits to get treatment?  There is a lot of help out their for the Mentally Ill and you do not have a clue.  
While access to counseling services is still available for mental health patients in the area, treatment by psychiatrists, who are certified to make diagnoses and prescribe medications, is hard to find, said Sue Brantley, director of the Morgan County Mental Health Association.
Some patients, who have insurance and a family doctor willing to work with a counselor, can get their medications from those health care providers.
“But if somebody is very mentally ill, most family doctors won’t prescribe those strong psychiatric drugs for things like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia,” Brantley said.
Once a person is diagnosed with these conditions, they do not need a family doctor to prescribe those medications; they simply need Morgan County Mental Health facility to write the prescriptions.  We need not trying to make light of this article.  We take it very seriously.  We have a huge problem with mental illness that does not get the recognition it deserves.  We do not believe this sheriff takes mental illness seriously.
Inmates suffering from severe mental illness can be committed to the Alabama Department of Mental Health for treatment pending trial, “but it requires a lot of things to be proven with evidence,” Morgan County Circuit Judge Steven Haddock said.
Judge Haddock, We know of a few cases that Sheriff Ana Franklin had the knowledge and the documentation to seek court approved treatment on.  Yet, she didn't.  We understand that it takes a lot to get a person into treatment while in jail.  However, there is resources that folks can reach out and obtain treatment if they are on social benefits and out of jail.  Since the laws have changed so dramatically over the years involving the mentally ill, it is very difficult for the family to get help unless the probate judges are able to assist the family.  How many of those cases has Ana Franklin brought to the courts for assistance out of the 87 she claims is currently incarcerated?
For an inmate to be committed, evidence must show treatment is needed to prevent a deterioration of the person’s health and that the inmate poses a “substantial risk of harm” to himself or others, Haddock said.
Did you know that there are currently 87 mentally ill inmates in the Morgan County Jail?  How many of those inmates have gone through the court system for assessments to get treatment?  Judge Haddock,you are one of the best judges in Morgan County, next to Thompson.  I dare say neither of you knew much about the huge volume of inmates in the Morgan County Jail who suffer from mental illness.  You probably weren't told by the Sheriff that there was a halfway house on New Center Road with 12 - 15 women in it and that the halfway house wasn't certified.  Nor did the courts know anything about the house.
If those elements are proved during a hearing and an evaluation by a mental health professional confirms them, a circuit judge can order the inmate be treated at Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility. The Tuscaloosa facility is one of two state-operated mental hospitals that remain open.
The wait time for a hearing and evaluation, however, can be six to nine months, Franklin said.
Ok! Franklin, why not start right now on those 87 inmates?  How many of those inmates have you submitted documentation on to date.  We are passionate about those who cannot take care of themselves.  They can't just jet back around the country to play horse and pony shows like the Sheriff does.
“By then, we’ve already had them in our custody all that time, and there’s no guarantee they can be placed in a bed right away,” she said.
Haddock said the treatment can be used for the person to gain competency to stand trial, or just to improve the inmate’s mental health.
State mental health officials are planning a town hall meeting in Decatur this month as part of a tour across Alabama to discuss problems like those law enforcement face in Morgan County.
Terry Mitchell, the Department of Mental Health's public information officer, said the meeting will address topics including funding for treatment and the effects of incarceration on mentally ill inmates. The meeting's location, date and time have not been announced.
ashley.remkus@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2443. Twitter @aremkus1.

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