RECENT UPDATES
[ Archived Updates 1 ]
[ Archived Updates 2 ]
The Wrongful Death of Larry Neal
The Secret Death of a Mentally Ill Heart Patient in a
Tennessee Jail and the Subsequent Cover-Up

UPDATES

January 2008

Listen to the Interview!

Listen to the interview of Mary Neal about her brother Larry on the Wake Up Call Show blogtalkradio program.




THREE MORE FEDERAL LAWSUITS RELATING TO CARE AND TREATMENT OF MENTALLY ILL IN SHELBY COUNTY JAIL
Posted on the web at http://braxtonandfriends.org/index.html by Friends of Braxton Moore

Braxton Korvacea Moore, by his next friend and mother, Janie Moore, and Janie Moore, v. County of Shelby, et al. Filed 12/5/2006. [Link to PDF]

This case involves the treatment, or lack thereof, of Braxton Moore while he was housed at the Juvenile Court Detention Facility, and at the Shelby County Jail. The lawsuit claims Braxton was not properly treated, cared for, and supervised while he was incarcerated. The lawsuit also claims that Braxton did not receive his proper medications while he was incarcerated.

Jannie J. Williams, surviving mother of Kelvin A. Williams, Deceased v. City of Memphis, et al. Filed 12/5/2006. [Link to PDF]

This case involves the death of a mentally ill adult while in custody. The lawsuit claims, in essence, that Kelvin Williams was assaulted by police officer(s) after being taken into custody, and while in the back of an ambulance. Williams subsequently died of his injuries.

Willie Hester, Jr., by his next friend and mother Joyce D. Hester, and Joyce D. Hester v. City of Memphis, et al. Filed 7/3/2006. [Link to PDF]

This case involves the shooting of a mentally ill adult by Memphis police. Hester was shot 21 times, some of the bullets entering his body from the bottom of his feet, and some from his buttocks. The lawsuit also alleges that Hester was not properly treated and medicated while at the Shelby County jail; Hester was transferred to the jail after three months in ICU.




Retailers Lobby for Mental Health Parity
Friday January 11, 5:49 pm ET

National Retail Federation Taps Ernst & Young to Lobby Government on Mental Health Parity

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Retail Federation hired Washington Council Ernst & Young to lobby the federal government for equal health insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses when policies include both, according to a disclosure form. The trade group, whose members include Best Buy Co. Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Home Depot Inc., supported a mental health parity bill that was passed by the Senate in September.

The group opposes a House version they said would expand coverage of mental health services without accounting for costs to employers and employees. The trade group said it represents an industry that has more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments and more than 24 million employees.




Citizen-Times.com

Excerpt from article by Nanci Bompey
December 29, 2007 12:15 am

Mental health: North Carolina's mental health system suffered from a lack of community services and providers. Broughton State Hospital lost its Medicaid and Medicare certification and may lose its accreditation to accept payment from private insurance companies.




From: "Saxby Chambliss" saxby_chambliss@chambliss.senate.gov>
Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2007 10:00 am
To:

Dear Ms. Neal:

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 558, the "Mental Health Parity Act of 2007." It is good to hear from you.

S. 558 would require health insurance plans that offer mental health coverage to provide coverage similar to the coverage offered for physical illnesses. The bill applies only to employers with 50 or more employees, and does not require group health care plans to provide mental health coverage. On September 18, 2007, this legislation passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent, and was received in the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Access to affordable and quality health care for all Americans will continue to be one of my top priorities. If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: www.chambliss.senate.gov . Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may ever be of assistance.


NOTE: AIMI understands that the Mental Health Parity bill also received unanimous support in the House of Representatives.

THANK YOU, REPRESENTATIVES, FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT!

More information on what our representatives are doing to help with the issues facing mentally ill Americans can be found at these websites:

CONGRESS
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/bills/?start=1&keys=mental+health&chamber=H

SENATE
http://www.senate.gov/general/search/search_cfm.cfm?q=mental+health&site=default_collection&num=10&filter=0&x=7&y=6




AIMI advocates were very pleased to discovery that there is one other mental health organization which recognizes that acute mentally ill persons may be incapable of making wise treatment decisions necessary to avoid incarceration and other crises and if so, others should to act on their behalf: TAC.

THE TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER ("TAC")
Reprinted here from the Center's website: http://www.psychlaws.org/GeneralResources/fact8.htm

Treatment Advocacy Center is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illnesses. TAC promotes laws, policies, and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care and supports the development of innovative treatments for and research into the causes of severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Current federal and state policies hinder treatment for psychiatrically ill individuals who are most at risk for homelessness, arrest, or suicide. As a result, 40 percent of the 4.5 million individuals with schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness (bipolar disorder), an estimated 1.8 million people, are not being treated for their illness at any given time.

The primary reasons for lack of treatment are threefold:

  • Schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness can severely impair an individual's self-awareness, causing many to believe they are healthy and not in need of medical care. Their brain disease has impaired their brain function, and since they do not think they are sick, many of them do not actively seek treatment and often refuse it.
  • Civil rights advocates have changed state laws and practices to such an extent that it is now virtually impossible to treat such individuals unless they first commit a violent act.
  • Public psychiatric services have deteriorated significantly in recent years with the closure of state psychiatric hospitals. While these much needed hospital beds have been eliminated, there has been no increase in outpatient services. In addition, the failure of for-profit managed care companies to provide services to these individuals who need them most has only further exacerbated the situation.

The Treatment Advocacy Center is working on the national, state, and local levels to educate civic, legal, criminal justice, and legislative communities on the benefits of assisted treatment in an effort to decrease homelessness, arrest, suicide, violence and other devastating consequences caused by lack of treatment. The main activities of TAC include:

  • educating policymakers and judges about the true nature of severe brain disorders, advanced treatments available for those illnesses, and the necessity of community ordered treatment in some cases;
  • assisting individuals in states working to promote laws that enable individuals with the most severe brain disorders to receive assisted treatment;
  • promoting innovative approaches to diverting the psychiatrically ill away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment; and
  • ensuring that individuals receive adequate psychiatric services and maintain medication compliance upon release from hospitals.




Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law reports that over the next five years, several hundred residents of the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco will move from open wards to independent apartments linked to the supportive services they need, assuming approval by the court and the city's board of supervisors of a settlement announced on November 27, 2007. See http://www.bazelon.org/

NOTE: AIMI is pleased that suitable housing and continual mental health care are to be available to Laguana's patients as they transition back into society. The opportunity to live "outside" will undoubtedly work very well for many of the Laguana patients, especially with apartments and treatment services planned for them on the Laguana campus.

Besides safeguards against homelessness and deprivation of psychiatric treatment, another positive step would be to also arrange for bail and legal services for Laguana's chronically mentally ill patients who will ultimately become entangled in San Francisco's criminal justice system as a result of their newfound freedom. A guarantee of space availability for the eventual return of those chronically ill mental patients who do not fair well outside of this inpatient facility would also be in order. Sadly, when given the choice, many acutely mentally ill persons elect NOT to continue psychiatric treatment once released from mental hospitals, and they wind up trading mental hospital care for prison cells.




National Alliance on Mental Illness ("NAMI")
Website: www.nami.org

NAMI is an organization dedicated to improving the lives and quality of care for mentally ill persons. Its website contains over 4,000 pages of information to assist people in need of information about mental health. NAMI's website has a site map and a site search, providing two quick ways to locate information about mental health issues:

Site map: http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Site_Map

Site search: http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=search




Article by Cameron Quanbeck, M.D., Mark Frye, M.D., and Lori Altshuler, M.D.
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/160/7/1245)

Mania and the Law in California: Understanding the Criminalization of the Mentally Ill

This link above will take you to an online article which explains AIMI's concerns very well and offers statistical evidence of the danger of criminal arrest faced by acutely mentally ill people after release from mental institutions. What the doctors' study cannot adequately describe is how much the acutely mentally ill suffer in America's criminal justice system or their families' misery as they try to obtain needed assistance for their loved ones within a mental health system that renders treatment only (a) if their mentally ill relative will agree to treatment, or (b) after some major crisis precipitated by the lack of such treatment.




Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill ("AIMI")
Website: http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com

AIMI advocates for mentally ill prisoners in America and those at risk for imprisonment. Just as Dorothea Dix was a human rights crusader who accomplished much for mentally ill prisoners in the late 1800's, AIMI believes hospitalization is the humane option to jailing mentally ill people whose dysfunction leads to arrest. Specifically, AIMI advocates for (1) restraint on the use of Taser guns and deadly force when arresting mentally ill persons; (2) mandatory inpatient care in quality facilities for the acutely mentally ill as an alternative to imprisonment; and (3) enforced psychiatric treatment for mentally ill parolees and probationers upon release from jail, at least for the term of their parole or probation.

AIMI appreciates any financial assistance, advice, information, and comments regarding its work that you may care to give. If you have news to include in next month's UPDATES, please let us know. See AIMI's contact information under the CONTACT US tab of this website.




DOG JUSTICE

by Mary Neal

Too bad you weren't a dog, my brother
In my heart, I cried
Many more people would care about you
And wonder why you died

You had no spots or floppy ears
You never fetched a ball
Instead, you were a human being
But poor, black, and flawed

You died in jail for mental illness
I know down in my heart
Your death would be investigated
If only you could bark

Dog deaths get swift justice
Their abusers are sent to jail
Poor Mama would have closure now
If you'd had a wagging tail

But you were made in God's image
And some day, I have no doubt
The mentally ill and American dogs
Will have at least equal clout

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