Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

I need help getting my mentally ill husband released from prison

My husband has been incarcerated since early October and in all that time he has never met his public defender. He suffers from schizo-affective disorder and bipolar and is being held on $50,000 bail even though all of his felony charges have been dropped, they have stopped his SSI. I am his wife and I, too, suffer from several debilitating mental illnesses and this has caused an undue hardship for us both. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated. He is currently receiving inadequate psychiatric care.

Every year where I live these monks from India, formally Tibet, come and build a piece of art for our city. It takes them two weeks to complete, working 12-15 hour days. They take little colored grains of sand and painstakingly put them in their proper spot to form a mandala. It literally means “old man” but is a practice they use to teach communities about impermanence.

When they are finished with an absolutely stunning work of art, they take it to the river and they sweep the sand into the river.

A local lawyer offered them 80k to keep it so he would never loose a case again. So he could put it in a coffee table in his office. They told him they would not take his money and asked him to leave.

Now, imagine this work of art as your life with him and everything you fear to loose. Where can you go to seek help? What are the options available to you? If he isn’t receiving adequate care, where can you go to receive help. We are all on a journey and impermanence, frankly the most important lesson we can receive to help with the anxiety of loss, still sometimes isn’t enough.

Remember there is a path to rebuild, repair, and get what you want back. Take the time to think about what it is that will lead you to the next point. Worry about the next 5 things you need to do, don’t focus on what you’ve lost, but perhaps what you can rebuild given the current circumstances. It’s hard to approach this when you’re focusing on the loss. Replace the mandala you had with something new, and use the current system to get there. Call a social worker, a state representative, someone at the prison who can help you get through what you’re experiencing.

Ask for help.

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Hi Kathleen,

I hope you are doing alright. Do you have your own counselor or case worker you can talk to about this? I ask for your sake and because this person might know how to help your husband.

It should be public record who his attorney is and who the prosecuting attorney is. You can go see both of them and ask what is happening and why.

Is he in jail or prison?

I hope everything works out for both of you. Keep all jail paperwork as SSI will start back up when he is released if he is in for less than one year, as long as he goes straight to the social security office with his release papers.


Contact the Public defender office where you husband is being incarcerated. they should tell you who is the public defender and you may also want to Talk to Public defender Supervisor. find out who is he?
Talk to PD and explain your husband illness.

I know, in the jail he will not receive medicine unless he is found to be 51/50 or/and dangerous to himself and another.

Try to get financial support from family or friends until your husband get his social security back.

I would talk to your case worker and ask for help with your husband case as Hereandhere suggested.
it will get easier. do not worry about what you had lost in the past. the main thing you are functional enough to help yourself and your husband.

Stay Strong!! it will get better.


if you can try to reach out to a Politician office who are in charge of mental health in your area.
Also, connect to mental Advocacy group for the jail.
you can talk to them and ask them to get your husband the proper medicine while he is in jail.

Keeping your family in my prayers.


I would request a different defender and request a hearing about hardship with regards to bail. If allowed you will have to testify in front of a judge but they might offer some leniency once they understand the story from your perspective. Remember the wheels of our justice system are very slow turning so be prepared to be patient.


He won’t really receive psych care, and he won’t get his medications regularly.

He can put in complaints, as my husband did. He can also “stash” his meds, and save them up. Mine did, and was on suicide watch. The complaints will be ignored, no matter how many.

Some jails will permit YOU to take him his meds, and then YOU can run to his Dr for refills, and YOU can go through the entire process of checking into the jail when YOU run the meds back. He will not get all of them, or as they are prescribed. Some are better than none, and create a paper trail to a degree.

IF he testifies, and states that he is in the throes of psychosis issues related to not receiving his meds, they will still take testimony. It will not matter (this happened more than once for us.) IF you have a pretty good lawyer, he should and can take a stand on these issues. They still won’t do anything though. (For me, I felt at the time I was getting my “dollars worth” from the attorney. I thought he would now get his meds, etc. The attorney has no control over the jail. I was so disappointed when I slowly realized this.)

Some jails will have him meet with a Dr, and they will prescribe. For us, they ended up giving him a lot of powerful stuff. BUT, irregularly.

If he gets dangerous to himself or others, or is a threat, or to be punished, he will go into solitary. For us, it hit him psychologically very hard. He may have been safe®, but he came out an absolute zombie who was terrified of anything in the real world. This did fade, but the trauma remains. Certain things are definitely triggering for him now. He lost a lot of weight, and looked completely different. (Roughly 10 months later.)

YOU can get his lawyer to work with you, if he is cooperative. I think the lawyer had to get releases from him when we were in this situation. I do know that I was stuck between lawyer, prosicutor, jail system and husband. Any bailiffs or office gate keepers stood in between. I had to stay polite, and push gently, as they are used to dealing with upset spouses. (i watched them with others, and they are experienced with being mean!) Mention mental illness, and they are now looking to YOU to be the “level headed” one. Some officers were supportive and understanding of my husband, others (especially in the main jail, and when husband was losing it ON the officers) were not.

At some trials, if YOUR man has been a pill while in jail, and the bailiffs know about it or had to deal with them…they will then tell the judge and the courtroom theater (you included of course) that due to actions on the part of the men being transported, ANY outcries or interaction from the theater group with the transport group will result in the inmate being punished. Shocked me…the young woman next to me said it was normal, as did our lawyer.

We went lawyer route once instead of Public Defender. I didn’t see a difference, husband may feel otherwise. It’s STILL a sensitive subject for him. The shame and humiliation, anger and regret, confusion…it was hard.

Sometimes, you can pull in other Dr’s that he is already seeing (you can do this IF he signed a release with the desk when he first became a patient). If there is no release, you might be able to get the Dr to fudge the rules IF he knows you. The other Drs can then submit paperwork noting his dx to the jail. As no one has successfully sued the jail system in regards to the treatment of the mentally ill, it’s not a viable threat. At least, that’s what we discovered 10 years ago and how the lawyers explained it.

There are a lot of “IF’s” in this…
He was arrested more than once…

We lived through it, and are closer now. Keep the letters you two write…husband said my letters were his only hold on sanity. They remind me just how much I missed him, and how very important he still is.

In hindsight, I would have gotten more care together for his arrival home. I would have gotten care for myself. Psych and otherwise. It was hard. It took a long time to heal.


How long ago was that. You sound so strong now. That must have been hell to have to go through.

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It was rough and took it’s toll.

Am I strong? Don’t have a clue. Some days are better than others of course.

Time ago…first arrest I was 4 months pregnant with first son. That one involved his jumping bail and crossing states lines. Deemed armed and dangerous, they tracked him down and expedited him back to home state. I gave birth without him, he was released 4 days later. I drove to the State he was incarcerated in, only to discover that he was released from jail but not from the county/State. We had to stay in a cheap hotel until they gave him permission to go home. Our son spent his first week in a cheap hotel, with his Dad being released straight from the suicide watch/isolation cell. Johnny Cash died that week too.

Hmmm…14 years ago. There were several more arrests afterwards. We seperated for a period of time, with no contact. He got more help, struggled, hospitalized again, got help, got on meds…

and we got back together. Been 16 years total.
Bottom line? I love this guy. Always have, always will.

He’s a physically large man, with a dark sadness in his eyes. With meds, he smiles more. As a father, friend, and husband…he is the best, and has certainly improved with time. Most people look at his size, and don’t realize he’s really quite anxious and frightened. Dx: depression/anxiety/scz symptoms

And yet…he can create the most extraordinary works of art, and can manage large teams of men to make these monoliths! Million dollar projects he can organize and implement. …walk into WalMart? He has a panic attack. Talk to someone on the phone outside of work? Not going to happen. Fill out Dr forms? I’m your girl. Play chess with our older boy for hours on end to humor and please the boy? He’s your guy. No matter how tired, he’s there for both our sons and myself.

Strange…he IS the kind of guy I can wake in the middle of the night just because I’m worried. He always seems to know how to make my worries dissipate. His are a little more challenging.



Your son is a spitting image isn’t he. Love conquers all. I have thought about that often with my son and I see it so evident in your love for your husband and son.

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@squid Your husband is such a lucky guy to have a gal who loves him so completely and unconditionally and GETS it. That you can see so much GOOD in him despite his illness is a testament to your own generous spirit. So many others have crumbled under less but you’ve stood by him through it all and are still there today with wonderful perspective and most importantly LOVE. Kudos to you for still being there after 16 years. Keep hanging in there and doing what you do! I have nothing but admiration for you and appreciation for you opening my eyes to how mental illness can lead to incarceration, something I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize prior. You’ve put a human face on a big topic.

Are you strong? My friend, you are a ROCK! No matter how many times fear could have swayed you, uncertainty could have dragged you down, or when it would have been easier to walk away with even justifiable reasons, you STAYED. Few people could withstand that test of their character and grit. I’m not sure I’m capable of it and I consider myself a very strong individual all in all. My hat is off to you, ma’am, with much respect.

<3 Keep fighting and staying strong!




truth be told, I carry a tremendous amount of shame for separating from him. Those were DARK days. I filed for divorce, listened to counsel that was not fully informed or was blatantly biased, made mistakes. Big ones in my opinion. I promised to be there for him, and I wasn’t.

When I went into the psych hospital, later…(I did “lose it and crack”)…he was right there. I honestly thought to myself: “he’s going to leave me in there, and he’s going to leave with our boys. I accept this…but it’s so very sad”. But, I had become so depressed that I had entered a state of psychosis the Drs said…where I honestly believed they would be better off without me.

I was employed as a Social Worker for a Crisis Unit, caring for 2 boys, dx with pre-cancerous polyps of the colon again, youngest son is not yet dx but has serious issues, and I averaged 3-4 hours a sleep at night. My mother who is dx with scz had just come back into my life, and is NOT healthy for me. …I lived on coffee and cigarettes…

and was literally at the psych ward with a client the day before, and then…booom! cracked… within hours.

Drs said the lack of sleep, in conjunction with my mother’s trigger was all it took. Apparently, it was a long time overdue. I barely recognized the staff. Later…many days later…these same staff members came to me privately and shared that they too had “cracked” and were hospitalized. It’s a tough, tough field. For me…my mother was the final straw.

While I was in the hospital he came to every visit. He called. He brought both boys into the hospital for visits, no matter how “bad” I was. He brought an orchid to have it placed in the nurses window so I could see it and “know how much they think of me and need me”. He had the boys write cards, with supportive notes. He wrote (he doesn’t do cards normally or write “love notes”) that he was so very proud of me, of my awareness and that I was the strongest woman he had ever met. I still have these notes, and wow…the support!

I was shocked in the hospital…once I was in a better place…I was amazed by what this man did for me.

Really? Strong?
I still have the scars on my arm.

The very day our divorce was supposed to be final, we talked more than ever. We decided we understood each other more than anyone else, and if we didn’t understand, we had the willingness to try harder. We actually said aloud that we were going to throw out the marriage ideals we were taught by dysfunctional people, and figure out what is best for us. The two of us.

That worked.
Working together has always succeeded for us.
We “dated” again…not for the romance, but to find out who we really are and if we were truly being honest with one another.

Stupid things, like he HATES the way I shop. He believes he gets better deals. He does…and he likes me to putz around the grocery store with him. He shops, I hold his arm and whisper sweet things into his ear. Sometimes, I remember to bring the list! Now, it’s probably the only time we can step away from the boys for a “date”. It works…

I don’t like that he grows quiet for weeks on end, and goes into this unreachable place. He reminds me now that this is his issue, and it’s not for me to “fix”, or worry over. It’s just part of his personal psyche. Medications, for him, work…but they take him into this quiet place even more. Post jail(s), he grew more quiet too. He says he feels “flat”, with the meds. BUT, it’s better than raging.

Before meds, he could become scary. Let me state for the record, that when scary stuff enters the picture, you do need to leave. He had supervised visitation for over a year. It was hard…humiliating to him (he said, but he did like the supervisor I selected most carefully with him in mind.)

It did improve. He learned a lot while on his own…especially navigating the mental health field. Our family Dr stayed by his side and really helped a great deal. He no longer had me to rely on, and realized a great deal about how much stress I was under by the additional demands of caring for things he was unwillingly to address personally. He is an awesome parent…but he had to parent without me. With a younger boy who was, as of the time of separation still undiagnosed.

I still feel shame…and sometimes wonder if the trauma of leaving Dad caused our younger sons schizophrenia?

There…I finally said this outside of “therapy”.
Ewww…I feel sick.
I left his side.

I promised I wouldn’t.

Thanks for your positive feedback…it’s very kind.
I still feel so very bad though.
I added a lot of stress to an already stressful situation.
I separated from my husband when he was at his darkest.

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They do look alike!
This was a year ago, and now, with puberty, the older boy looks even more like him.

He takes the older boy on “dates”. They have gone to so many funky little restuarants all over the US. Each time, I ask for them to send a pic.

They usually bring a hot box home for younger son and I as well.

I like their “dates”!!



Thank you for sharing your awesome story.

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Its really good to read such a touchy story. Hope your husband is released soon from the prison asap! Which lawyer did you hire? My sister also faced somewhat same problem and she used the services of Bechara Tarabay to help her release her husband from prison safely abiding to all the rule and regulations.