The Life of a Phoenix Veteran Inmate


Many of the men and women who have served our country in the military have lived through traumatic experiences and witnessed horrific things. The things they have seen and the injuries sustained while in service affect their brains and often leave them with problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. It is no surprise that if left untreated, these veterans often struggle adjusting back to life as a civilian, and that these mental issues affect their behaviors and decisions. Since many veterans do not receive the mental health assistance they need from the VA, many instead find themselves caught up in the Arizona justice system and the Department of Corrections.

In Maricopa County’s Durango Jail, there is a separate veterans unit specifically designed for inmates who have served our country. These inmates receive psychological attention and treatment for PTSD, anger management, depression, stress, alcoholism, drug addiction and drug prevention. The veterans are housed separately from the general prison population in hopes of keeping them on the right track while incarcerated and to prevent recidivism once they are released. In workshops and classes, the veterans address the issues that contributed to their incarceration, and learn how to successfully reenter society as law abiding citizens. The inmates are required to follow a strict code of conduct while housed in the unit.

While it is admirable that the mental issues veteran inmates face are being addressed and treated, many civilian inmates suffering from mental illnesses and brain disorders get lost in the general prison population and do not receive the mental health assistance they so desperately need. Instead, they remain tangled up in the justice system, often living a pattern of crime, jail time, release, and recidivism. Mentally ill individuals who are facing criminal charges of any kind need a lawyer with knowledge and experience defending these types of cases. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and you believe that mental health is to blame, speak to a mental health defense attorney today.

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Posted in Arizona, Mental Health Defenses |

Mentally Ill, Drug-Addicted Individuals Need Treatment, Not Jail


Our prisons are filled with mentally ill individuals, some of whom were born with disabilities, and others who have been damaged by circumstances and environment. All mentally ill offenders have their own unique conditions and needs, yet all too often they are simply cycled through the criminal justice system. Regardless of the crime committed, many do not receive the treatment they need to overcome or learn to deal with their issues while locked up. What does a mentally ill individual with no support and limited resources do once they are released from jail? Sadly, once they are in the system, they tend to stay trapped in it.

Many states are now looking at different ways of handling these individuals. Treatment, rather than jail time, not only ends up costing states much less, but also gives these individuals who are suffering a second chance- an opportunity to go forward with new knowledge and an ability to make better choices. In Utah, judges are issuing drug sentences with less jail time and more treatment, with hopes of preventing repeat offenses. Officials in Arkansas are looking at diversion programs for treating mentally ill individuals and drug addicted individuals, as opposed to locking them up in an already overcrowded jail.

Here in Arizona, Maricopa County’s psychiatric crisis facilities have more than doubled in the last year. In addition to expansions in the existing centers, including more beds added to a crisis center in Peoria, a new psychiatric emergency center was opened in Mesa. There are about 100 more beds available than there were less than a year ago. It is still not enough, by any means, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

A mentally ill individual who has been accused of a crime needs a criminal defense lawyer with experience in this area. Bernardo Garcia has been representing mentally ill defendants for over 20 years. If you are in Phoenix or the surrounding areas, contact Garcia Law Firm, PLC today regarding your mental health defense needs.

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Posted in Drug Crimes, Mental Health Defenses |