If Someone is SMI, Does that Make Him Incompetent in Arizona?

21March
2019

Serious mental illness (SMI) is a term used people who have certain mental health diagnoses in Arizona. They struggle to keep control of their lives because of the condition.

The fact a defendant is diagnosed with SMI does not automatically mean he will be ruled incompetent in a criminal proceeding. His attorney may have grounds to make the case if his condition is severe enough.

Why an SMI may not equate to incompetence in Arizona

Does an SMI mean incompetence in Arizona?

During a criminal proceeding in Arizona, the defense attorney may ask for a Rule 11 evaluation of his client when SMI is an issue. Under Rule 11, known as the competency rule, the defendant has the right to a full mental examination and hearing if reasonable grounds exist for it.

Rule 11 hearings usually take place when a defendant is believed to be mentally incompetent. Substantial evidence of mental incompetence is required by medical professionals.

A hearing takes place when reasonable grounds exist to suggest the defendant is not able to understand the nature of the criminal proceeding against him or to assist in his or her defense.

This is not always synonymous with serious mental illness. Some people who are SMI are capable of understanding the criminal proceedings and can give coherent help and advice to their legal representatives. Some serious mental illnesses involve mood swings and periods of incapacity as well as lucid periods.

Rule 11 was enacted to make sure the defendant has the mental ability to understand what is going on around him. Criminal trials are adversarial and can disadvantage people who are not aware of what’s happening.

Once a motion has been entered under Rule 11, the court will determine whether reasonable grounds exist to examine the defendant for competency. The court requires “sufficient evidence” to determine if reasonable grounds exist for a competency hearing. The court often appoints an expert to conduct a preliminary examination.

The Crisis Response Network characterizes a “serious mental illness” as a condition that leaves sufferers unable to look after themselves. They may attempt suicide or have suicidal thoughts due to the condition. Acts of self-harm are an indicator of SMI. They may resort to drug abuse.

Although some people who are ruled incompetent in Arizona may suffer from these behaviors, being SMI does not necessarily mean you are unable to understand what’s going on in the courtroom.

Competency proceedings are complicated and difficult for family members. If your family member has been arrested and is suffering from a mental health condition, please call our Phoenix defense attorney as soon as possible at (602) 340-1999.

 

 

 

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged |

Can a Mental Health Attorney Help Me In Family Court?

12March
2019

If you have been involved in a criminal case, you might need help from a mental health attorney. This is especially true during cases that are held at Mental Health Court. But what about Family Court? Yes, a mental health attorney can offer legal advice and representation on cases in Family Court.

What is a Mental Health Attorney?

A mental health attorney is an attorney that specializes in mental health law and represents those with a wide range of mental illnesses to provide them with a fair case and punishment.

What is Family Court?

Family Court is defined as a court that decides on certain matters in relation to family law. This can include divorce and custody battles as well we issues within the family such as abuse.

Circumstances where a Mental Health Attorney is Beneficial

Divorce is a difficult thing to go through and it can be even more difficult if you suffer from a mental illness. One issue that comes up during a divorce is who gets what when it comes to finances. If you are going through a divorce, but have a mental illness in which you are unable to work, you may receive spousal maintenance. A mental health attorney will be needed to prove to Family Court that you do suffer from a mental illness where you are unable to provide financially for yourself.

A child custody battle is also a very difficult process that can be even more difficult for those with a mental illness. You will need the help of a mental illness attorney to prove that you are capable of taking care of your children. Of course, mental illness can impact a parent’s ability to raise their children, which could be used against you during a custody battle. A mental health attorney will provide a strong case with character testimony and doctor notes to prove that you are self-sufficient and able to provide for your children.

Garcia Law

Garcia Law offers over 25 years of experience in a wide range of legal issues from felonies to misdemeanors. The legal team at Garcia Law always takes the time to listen to your concerns and fight for your constitutional rights. The goal is for every mentally ill client to receive fair punishment and treatment. Just because you have a mental illness, doesn’t mean you should be silenced. Garcia Law has experience with those suffering from mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders. We understand that you are not in full control of your mental facilities and that there are always certain circumstances surrounding odd behavior, where a fair punishment is needed.

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses |

How Sentences can be Reduced for Mentally Ill Defendants in Arizona

11March
2019

Criminal defense attorneys put a lot of work into arguing the innocence of their clients. However, some defendants plead guilty. Others are convicted, notwithstanding the best efforts of their lawyers. In Arizona, the law gives lawyers the opportunity to argue for lesser sentences for their clients. Sentences may be reduced for mentally ill defendants in Arizona.

After a defendant has been found guilty, he or she is afforded an opportunity to show the judge and jury reasons why he or she deserves a more lenient sentence. The arguments are made by the defendant’s lawyer.

Reducing sentences for mentally ill defendants

Mentally ill defendants may have sentences reduced

So-called mitigating evidence is presented to the court during the sentencing phase of the trial. The courts are restricted to sentencing term lengths mandated by law. This means a judge or a jury must follow sentencing guidelines established by the Arizona Legislature.

The sentences that courts give depend on the nature of the crime, Felonies carry higher sentences than misdemeanors. The degree of felony or misdemeanor is a factor as well as the defendant’s prior criminal history.

The court gathers this pertinent information to find a “presumptive sentence. This is the sentence that’s required by law.

The presumptive sentence is a starting point for prison time associated with the offense or the level of fine.

The court works within a range that includes a mitigated sentence, a minimum sentence, a presumptive sentence, a maximum sentence, and an aggravated sentence.

What Factors Can Lead to Mitigating Circumstances in Arizona Sentencing?

Under A.R.S. 13-701 mentally ill defendants and others may receive a lesser sentence when the following circumstances are taken into consideration. The court also considers aggravating circumstances.

Any sentence imposed by the court must be supported and justified by the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. It’s vital to present as much mitigating evidence as possible, including:

  1. The defendant’s age.
  2. The capacity of the accused to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct;
  3. Duress on the behalf of the defendant, although not duress that would constitute a defense to prosecution.
  4. If the defendant only had a minor role in the crime, albeit not insignificant enough to be a defense to prosecution.
  5. Any factor relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the offense that the court finds to be mitigating.

Typically, defense lawyers have standardized packets for the defendant to complete to give to the court during sentencing. We will make sure to present as complete a picture as possible of the defendant and to highlight any factors that can lead to mitigation. These may include evidence of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Hire Bernardo Garcia to represent you in your case. Find out more about sentencing mitigation in Arizona on our website or call (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |

Why Arizona’s Insanity Defense is One of the Toughest to Prove in the Nation

7March
2019

Arizona’s insanity defense is one of the toughest to prove in the United States. The harshness of the defense provoked legal challenges in past years. Opponents claimed it failed to meet basic standards of fairness.

The obstacles associated with the defense were challenged in 2006 in the case of Clark v. Arizona. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Eric Clark shot a police officer dead during a traffic stop. Clark was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. He believed aliens took over his town, according to expert witnesses.

Challenges in Arizona's insanity defense

Arizona’s insanity defense is tough to prove

Clark wanted to use this evidence to prove that he was insane. His attorneys claimed he could not form the criminal intent that prosecutors required to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The trial judge ruled Clark could not use the expert testimony. He said the law did not permit the defendant to show he could not form the necessary criminal intent. The court found Clark failed to prove the insanity defense known as the Guilty Except Insane (GEI) defense in Arizona. Clark was convicted to 25 years to life in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court considered the question of whether a defendant has a Fourteenth Amendment due process right, aside from his insanity plea, to present expert evidence to counter to prosecution’s evidence of Clark’s criminal intent.

The New York Times pointed out the nation’s highest court never ruled that the Constitution requires a state to permit an explicit insanity defense. The insanity defense was abolished by four states – Utah, Kansas, Idaho, and Montana.

However, these states still permitted a defendant to present evidence of his or her diminished mental capacity by using experts to challenge evidence of criminal intent.

Arizona bars the use of this evidence. Defendants who rely on insanity defenses can request a Guilty Except Insane verdict. However, the defendant must demonstrate insanity under a statutory rule that’s narrower than that of most states.

The insanity defense dates back to England in the 16th Century. It was codified in the 19th century with the development of the M’Naghten Rule.

The court in the case decided a “disease of the mind” caused the accused to fail to realize the difference between right and wrong. There are other legal tests such as Durham Rule that found a defendant who is “not guilty by reason of insanity” cannot be convicted of crimes committed as a result of certain mental conditions because willful intent is required. The rule is only used in New Hampshire.

It is difficult but not impossible to bring the Guilty Except Insane defense in Arizona. You should hire a Phoenix-area attorney who is experienced in these cases. Please call us today at (602) 340-1999.

 

Posted in Arizona Laws, Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged |

Is Mental Illness a Defense for DUI in Arizona?

27February
2019

We are sometimes asked if mental illness is a defense for DUI in Arizona. As with any other crime, issues of mental competency may be raised in drunk driving cases.

An underlying mental health issue can also be presented by a defense attorney as a mitigating factor during sentencing for a drunk driving offense.

The existence of a mental health issue can explain lapses that lead to drunk driving. We also see cases in which a cocktail of drugs taken to treat a mental disorder impairs driving. Issues such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or a bipolar disorder often fuel alcohol abuse.

Mental health offenders and DUI in Arizona

DUI in Arizona is taken seriously

The Dual Diagnosis website set up by the Foundations Recovery Network points out victims of untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues habitually turn to alcohol or drugs as a form of self-medication. This may lead to impulsive and irresponsible actions such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The site states:

“Those with certain mental illnesses are less likely to be able to limit their alcohol consumption. Diagnoses such as bipolar disorder or severe anxiety mean that the individual may have trouble finding ‘steady ground,’ even when sober.”

Rule 11 in Arizona may be relevant to drunk driving cases as well as other crimes. Rule 11 states in order for a defendant to be found competent for trial he or she must have a factual understanding of the proceedings being brought and be competent to consult with his lawyer.

Defendants suffering from a serious “mental disease or defect” can claim the insanity defense, although it is used sparingly. This is known as Guilty Except Insane (GEI) in Arizona.

Although many conditions count as a mental disease or a defect, voluntary intoxication or withdrawal from alcohol are not mental diseases in their own right.

In DUI cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will also highlight underlying mental health conditions that may have led a defendant to get behind the wheel while drunk. For instance, former service personnel who return from war zones often suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The condition can cause alcohol abuse and lead to a DUI charge. Presenting the underlying circumstances may result in sentence mitigation.

In some cases, police take advantage of mentally ill drivers during a DUI stop. Failure to follow correct procedures are challenged by defense lawyers.

When police or highway patrol officers suspect a motorist of drunk driving, they will usually perform a breath test. When you drink alcohol, your body absorbs the alcohol. It quickly enters the bloodstream. The alcohol will leave your body on your breath. Police officers use this reading on your breath to build a drunk driving case against you.

On occasions, breath tests are inaccurate. A breath test must measure a ‘deep lung’ air sample. When the driver blows into the Breathalyzer’s mouthpiece, the breath creates a chemical reaction that measures your blood/alcohol (BAC) content. In Arizona, you will receive a DUI if your (BAC) is above .08 percent. The figure is .04 for a commercial driver or 0 percent for a driver under 21.

Criminal defense lawyers often challenge the accuracy of the Breathalyzer test for DUI in Arizona. A Breathalyzer is a machine. Its results may be inaccurate due to technical or human errors.

In some cases, software glitches occur on Breathalyzers that produce a false reading. There have been well-documented cases of police departments that fail to correctly calibrate their machines. Breathalyzers need fully working batteries but they are not always supplied.

There are also instances of defective and unreliable breath machines on the market. Even the underlying science of the breath test is in dispute.

Police officers have to be properly trained to use and read the results from Breathalyzers. If an officer has made an error in administering a test, the reading may be inaccurate.

Police must observe the suspect for a 15-minute interval where he or she does not belch, regurgitate, drink anything or smoke. The test must be restarted if this happens. However, law enforcement officers have many distractions and may fail to carry out this test properly.

Other factors can skew a breath test and prove important in your DUI defense. If you suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), acid may rise into your esophagus and mouth. It can render a breath test inaccurate.

Mouthwash and other products that contain alcohol may affect a breath test. Even dentures can store alcohol. People with mental illnesses may appear to be intoxicated due to drugs they take to address the illness.

Breathalyzer tests are not always straightforward, particularly when the readings are borderline. Police in Arizona often fail to follow correct procedures during DUI stops. Results from these stops can be challenged by an Arizona DUI lawyer.

At the Garcia Law Firm, we help people who are charged with drunk driving. We assist people with mental disorders who are stopped and arrested and provide help and advice to their family members. Please call us today at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in DUI, Mental Health | Tagged |

Is there a Link Between Schizophrenia and Violent Crime?

25February
2019

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. Some academics link schizophrenia to violent crime. Research suggests a failure to properly treat the disorder can lead to a deterioration that may result in violence.

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects under one percent of the U.S. population, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Active symptoms of the disorder include hallucinations, problems with thinking and focus, delusions, and a lack of motivation. Most of the more acute symptoms can be successfully treated.

Without treatment, the consequences for the sufferer and society can be high. A report in Schizophrenia.com states people with the disorder who fail to receive proper treatment often end up homeless or in jail. However, their crimes are usually misdemeanors rather than crimes of violence.

The report noted as many as 200,000 people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic depression) end up homeless. They comprise about a third of the homeless population of the United States.

Schizophrenia.com notes there are more people living on the streets with untreated psychiatric illnesses than people who receive care in hospitals. About 90,000 people with schizophrenia or bipolar illnesses are in hospitals receiving treatment for their conditions.

 

 

 

Some studies point to a link between untreated schizophrenia and mental illness. In 2011, researchers in Australia considered the link between schizophrenia, drug abuse, and violent criminal behavior.

The article published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, was published by a group of academics in Australia and the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Researchers evaluated people in police and mental health databases.

The team compared rates of schizophrenia disorders, conviction rates, and substance abuse among the 435 homicide offenders.

They compared them with other samples. Of the offenders, 38 of the 435 offenders (8.7 percent) were diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.  The research found a higher level of homicides among people with schizophrenia.

James Ogloff, J.D., Ph.D., a professor of clinical forensic psychology at Monash University in Australia, and a co-author of the report said:

“Patients with schizophrenia are significantly more likely than those in the general community to commit homicide offenses. Known substance abuse or prior offending rates for those with schizophrenia are not more significant indicators for risk of future offending among homicide offenders than for other groups.”

Other reports have failed to show a link. Schizophrenia.com maintains violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia and people with the disorder are more likely to harm themselves than others.

The seriousness of this disorder and its potential consequences if untreated are not in doubt. The criminal justice system offers inadequate protections for people with schizophrenia. If you or a schizophrenic family member has been arrested, it’s important to contact a lawyer with specialist knowledge in this area. Please call us at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |

Court Rules a Judge Can Order Arizona to Develop a Prison Staffing Plan to Meet Mental Health Needs

22February
2019

It’s no secret that mentally ill people require greater attention and care than other inmates in Arizona and elsewhere. Mental health advocates believe this means more prison workers are required to meet the unique needs of mentally ill inmates in prisons.

The prison system in Arizona has fought demands for greater staffing.

However, at the end of 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with lawyers who represent inmates. The justices found a federal magistrate judge made a mistake when he concluded a past settlement in Arizona prevented the court from ordering a plan that increased prison staffing.

Why mental health needs for inmates in Arizona should be considered

Judge says mental health needs should be considered in prisons

The appeals court ruled a lower court has the power to order prison officials to develop a general staffing plan that benefits mentally ill inmates, reported KTAR News.

An Associated Press report noted U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver said an agreement reached four years ago could be thrown out for non-compliance.

Attorneys representing mentally ill inmates say the lack of healthcare workers at 10 state-run prisons is one of the most significant obstacles to meeting the needs of inmates.

The recent ruling clarifies the settlement in a 2012 lawsuit. Advocates for the inmates said Arizona’s state-run prisons fail to meet basic requirements for providing proper mental health care and other health services. Some inmates complained serious conditions like cancer went undetected and there were even reports of inmates being told to pray for treatment.

The lawsuit was settled two years later. The state of Arizona did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Although the settlement in 2014 gave the court the power to enforce the agreement, it said the judiciary lacked the power to order a new prison building or the hiring of staff. However, Silver can tell prisons they need more staff to meet the needs of inmates with mental health issues, she concluded.

KTAR noted the new ruling means the court may issue a general staffing order for prisons. However, this does not require the state to hire a specific number or type of personnel to remedy any noncompliance with the prior settlement.

Inadequate staffing and the inability of prison staff to meet the needs of mentally ill inmates remains a problem in Arizona. At the Garcia Law Firm, we have decades of experience in helping the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. Call us at (602) 340-1999.

 

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |

What Should you Do when a Mentally Ill person is in Crisis?

18February
2019

When a mentally ill person is in crisis, the scenario is traumatic for the whole family. The crisis may result in the arrest of your mentally ill family member but this is not always the case. A crisis can also lead to self-harm.

Certain actions by a family member can help diffuse a difficult situation. Here are some important strategies.

When a mentally ill person is in crisis

What to do when a mentally ill person is in crisis

1 Communicate clearly

Communication is essential in de-escalating a mental illness crisis. It’s important to give a mentally ill person in crisis your undivided attention. Don’t just listen. Use body language like eye contact to show you are comprehending the person with mental health issues. Talk slowly and remain calm. Therapists often seek to make suicidal clients “hold their story,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Therapist Larry Shushansky said:

 “In sessions with suicidal clients, I often try to ‘hold their story,’ because I know that there are very few people in someone’s life who a person can talk to about suicide. Sometimes, just listening can be immensely helpful.”

Give your loved one an opportunity to discuss how they feel. Don’t be afraid to raise difficult questions such as whether they feel suicidal.

You should not use an anxious tone or be judgmental about a loved one’s feelings or they will clam up. Be concerned and caring and let your loved one know how you feel about them.

2 Call for Help

If you are unsuccessful in helping your loved one in their mental health crisis, you should reach out for a professional. If you believe the situation is a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Tell the operator your loved one suffers from mental health issues and request an officer with training in crisis intervention.

Other useful resources include the National Suicide Prevention Line where a trained crisis professional will talk to your family member. You can call 800-273-TALK (8255).

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) also provides trained crisis counselors. Text NAMI to 741-741.

You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

3 Know the Signs

It can be difficult and intimidating to deal with someone who suffers a mental health crisis. If you are aware your relative suffers from mental health problems, you should learn about the potential signs of an impending problem.

Look out for deteriorations in your loved one’s behavior such as an inability to perform daily tasks like dressing, washing and cleaning their teeth.

Other signs a relative is heading for a crash include mood swings, pacing, agitation, aggressive behavior, and destructive behavior. A person heading for a crash may resort to substance abuse or self-harm such as cutting.

Paranoia and losing touch with reality are other signs of an approaching crisis.

If you have a family member or a close friend with a mental health condition, it’s vital to have a network of support you can call on 24-7 in the cases of a crisis.

If your loved one ends up being arrested, it’s important to be in contact with an Arizona attorney who helps defendants with mental health issues. Please contact Garcia Law as soon as possible at (602) 340-1999.

 

 

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |

How Often is the Insanity Defense Used?

14February
2019

The insanity defense has been used in some high profile cases. However, it is used sparingly in Arizona and elsewhere in the United States.

According to a PBS report, the insanity defense is used in just 1 percent of felony cases and it is successful in less than a quarter of the cases it is used in. The figures are derived from an eight-state study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health in 1991.

Although high-profile cases like those of serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy highlighted insanity defenses, in reality, they are seldom used. You should hire a lawyer who is specialized in these difficult cases involving mental health.

The insanity defense was first developed in 16th Century England. It was codified in the M’Naghten Rule in the 19th Century.

Use of the insanity defense in Arizona

When the insanity defense is used in Arizona

In that case, a court ruled a “disease of the mind” meant the defendant failed to understand what he did was wrong and was unable to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.

Most states use a variation of the rule. Arizona has a guilty except insane defense. The burden to prove insanity is on the defense.

Many states amended their insanity laws in 1982 when John Hinckley was acquitted of the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on basis of insanity. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. Hinckley was released in 2016. He must live within a 75-mile radius of Williamsburg, Virginia where his mother resides. He must maintain contact with his doctors twice a month while continuing ongoing group and individual therapy sessions, reported CNN.

In the aftermath of the Hinckley case, states started to require defense attorneys to show evidence that the defendant is insane, instead of the prosecutor. Four states – Kansas, Idaho, Montana, and Utah eliminated the insanity plea altogether.

Arizona has a strict interpretation of the insanity defense. The defendant is barred from presenting evidence of diminished mental capacity to negate the prosecution’s claims he acted with criminal intent.

In the case of Clark v. Arizona in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-to-4 decision that Arizona was entitled to limit the use of evidence from experts about a defendant’s mental state to his insanity defense. A defendant is presumed to be sane until he proves otherwise. Justice Souter argued that allowing the accused to use insanity evidence to show that he could not form the necessary criminal intent would enable him to circumvent that presumption.

Arizona’s guilty except insane (GEI) defense is complicated and requires expert knowledge from a legal professional. Call Bernardo Garcia today if you or a family member has been arrested at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Arizona Laws, Mental Health | Tagged |

How does Maricopa County Jail House Mentally Ill Inmates?

5February
2019

Conditions for mentally ill inmates are grim in many jails across the country. However, jails in Maricopa County have been singled out for criticism in recent years.

Writing in Arizona Capitol Times in 2018, Eric Balaban, a senior staff counsel with the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, described terrible conditions for mentally ill inmates held in Maricopa County Jail’s Special Management Unit.

How does Maricopa County jail mentally ill inmates?

How Maricopa County jails mentally ill inmates

He wrote about naked men covered in filth and blocked up toilets and said the unit in downtown Phoenix was the worst he had ever seen in 23 years of visiting jails and prisons across the nation.

The reports from Maricopa County are extremely concerning for the family members of those housed in such unsanitary conditions.

The conditions are tough both mentally and physically. The article pointed out SMU was designed to remove prisoners from human contact. Inmates are left alone at least 22 hours daily in windowless cells as small as parking spaces. Balaban wrote the only sounds in the unit are the screaming of acutely mentally ill prisoners. They are only allowed outside one hour on weekdays, which they spend in a cage.

The Capitol Times article called for an ending to the locking up of severely mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement.

While SMU was built for extremely dangerous prisoners who could not be managed elsewhere, Balaban argued it has become a place where the mentally ill are indiscriminately dumped in horrific conditions.

Many of the behaviors that land inmates in SMU are consistent with untreated mental illness such as refusing orders or repeated outbursts of anger.

When the controversial Sheriff Joseph Arpaio ran jails in Maricopa County, prisoners ended up here for cutting themselves and spreading blood on the walls of their cells or for other minor offenses.

The rapid deterioration of inmates with mental illness in solitary confinement is well documented. The American Civil Liberties Union warns solitary confinement exacerbates mental health problems.

Balaban is a senior staff counsel with the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. The NPP has filed a lawsuit challenging mental health services and the provision of medical services to pretrial detainees in Maricopa County, a system with 8,200 jail beds.

In 2014, a federal judge held that the defendants in the case, the county’s sheriff and supervisors, failed to comply with a former judgment or the constitution in providing adequate mental help and health care.

The court heard the high turnover of inmates and short-stay nature of much of the jail population complicated the provision of mental health services and medical provision. However, the defendants failed to implement the prior judgment for more than half a decade. They then filed a motion to dismiss it.

The court found Maricopa County failed to show that all pretrial detainees were seen by a medical provider within 24 hours of arrival in jail or properly transferred to an appropriate medical facility in time.

The inadequate treatment of mentally ill prisoners in the jails of Maricopa County remains a grave cause for concern. If you or a family member has been arrested and you have mental health issues, please contact our Arizona criminal defense lawyer today at (602) 340-1999.

 

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |