Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My son is in jail

Hello everyone. Sorry I haven’t been around. I have been in and out of hospitals. I am trying to stay away from stress, depression, that my son has caused me.
My son is in jail since October 2018. He is no better. He ended up hitting his father, yelling at neighbors, which they put a restraining order on him. Police were called where my son ended up fighting with the police. They arrested him and is still in jail. The court order him to be evaluated by two different psychologist. At the last court date the judge order him to go to a state hospital. I don’t know if that is good or bad. I talked to his public defender, and he said that my son wasn’t getting any better and he had no other choice. I hope this is going to help him. He has been this way for years. I haven’t seen him since he went to jail. I visited him once in jail, and he said he didn’t want to see me, and threw the phone down and he walked away. That really hurt me very bad. He hasn’t shaved, and needs a hair cut. No shoes or coat at his court date. So I never went back to see him. He’s not answering his email in jail, won’t call me. I have been so upset over this I can’t function everyday. He has never done this to me before. I have done everything for this kid, and this is how he respects me. Does anyone know if it is his bipolar and schizophrenia getting worse or why he his acting this way. Before he went to jail he threw all his clothes and everything else in his room away. I mean everything, pictures off the wall, all his hunting and fishing stuff. The only thing left is his furniture.
I don’t know how much more I can take. The family doesn’t want to see him, or hear anything about him. I am all alone.


We had no compuction about sending our daughter to jail (in jail they are relatively safe)…but we also did not rely on a public defender. We hired an attorney to represent her. We were able to make sure “our story” was accurately conveyed to all parties involved in the process. The judge recognized he was dealing with a medically ill individual and worked to send her to a facility for treatment while we sought guardianship. She has NO RECORD as a result of completing one year with no issues. Since then (not related to our experience) our county now has a mental health court system in place for those less violent offenders. Many of our cities, counties and states do have mental health courts in place.

Our jail system DOES NOT allow in person visits. We did not take offense to the bad behavior exhibited towards us because it is caused by the actions of a person with compromised brain function. We found hospitalization and jail to be a positive experience in the sense that she was not out in the elements or in a position to become a victim of a crime. She was not held in the general jail population but in the medical portion of the facility.

Sounds like your son’s behavior is due to his untreated or uncontrolled disorder.

You can’t take it personally. Would you take offense to the actions of someone with Alzheimer’s, brain-damage due to birth or genetics disorders? Someone who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a accident? Stroke victim? It’s all the same…people who are suffering from a medically ill brain.


My son is 21 and for the past 3 years he has been in jail 3 times. He has been in 5 different group homes which have resulted in him getting kicked out. He has been hospitalized 5 times and in addition to that has sat in the ER 3 times awaiting a group home opening. He is in the ER now ( behavior unit) I raised him going to church believing in God. I raised him in showing people respect and to be kind. He has many siblings which are doing great. However he is very sick. He has a drug problem and can’t understand why he can’t do them. He gets psychotic from any type drugs. He has cognitive problems which affect his understanding of rules and consequences. We have been heart broken to see him suffer so. It effects the entire family ! I want you to know that I can feel your pain and suffering. My son has been diagnosed with a personality disorder with psychosis. When it hurts the most I sigh a prayer or I will talk with my most close of friends. You are not alone!


Hi Queen1,

Jail or prison can be incredibly stressful depending on what kind of environment he has been in. Some jails and prisons are more accommodating to those with mental illness than others. I don’t know what state you are in, but the State Hospital should be a much better place than jail for your son. Once he is feeling more secure and at peace, he will most likely want to be in contact with you again and hopefully you can visit him there.

In my husband’s case, he had been to jail and prison several times over a period of seven years, force-medicated with improper medication, restrained and put in confinement until it was decided he needed to go to the State Hospital. He was there for a few years, released on a conditional program and was doing very well until he decided to stop taking medication after a year of being out of the State Hospital.

I hope you can find comfort in the forum. You may feel alone at home, but we are with you and understand what you’re going through and will try to help you as much as we are able. Take care!


Yes, state hospital is way better than jail.

Also, when your son receives effective treatment for his illness, you will know which parts of the meanness are the illness and which are not. With our family, the bad treatment of others came from symptoms of untreated illness.

Best to you and your son.

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NeverTooLate . . . Will you tell us how you communicated your story to the parties involved in your daughter’s case? Did your attorney take care of that for you? Was it done before you got to the courtroom for her first hearing?

I’m so glad for you all that her experience with the justice system turned out well. It seems like the outcome might depend on whether or not you get a sympathetic judge.

I just want to say thank you to everyone for reading about my son being in jail. You are all so kind and thoughtful. I just hope when my son does go to the state hospital he will take his medication. He has always refused it in the past. I could never get him to a doctor, because he always refused to go. I am really hoping that this is going to help him. God bless everyone.

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I totally understand the struggle to get your son to go see a doctor. My daughter would never go either. She agreed to twice in the three years spent mostly unmedicated, but then walked home (over 2.5 miles) rather than go inside the medical building.

Only because of an arrest and court ordered meds last Dec is she on medication, and only because I pushed the issue at court and to the hospital she was released to from jail. Now the meds are no longer court ordered, but she has continued them… so the arrest was a blessing for us, as her symptoms are almost all under control now. Yes, it was a judge sympathetic to severe mental illness who ordered her to medication rather than keeping her in jail.

I hope things go well for you and your son. The nice son you love is still in that body somewhere struggling with his own brain. Don’t give up on him. While he is away, you could send cards to him regularly. I think that would help.


I would never give up on my son. I love him so much. That’s why it hurts me so much. I ask myself where did I go wrong. His father hates him so much. I am in the middle of all of this. I have two other children, and they turned out fine. One is a doctor and the other one is a supervisor with DCF. And they don’t want anything to do with their brother. It just hurts me so bad to have a family broken up like this. I pray everyday for all of this. God bless, and thank you for your help.


Please, @queen1 , do NOT blame yourself. This is an illness, and just like any other illness, it happens, and most often it happens to very nice people who don’t deserve it. My family was split up by my daughter’s illness: her brothers live 8 blocks away and almost NEVER come by or call. It is hard to deal with. We cannot force acceptance of mental illness, we can pray it comes about, but we can’t force it. Yes, it hurts, everything about sz hurts…

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My son, unmedicated, is facing going to court this week over a disturbing the peace incident. He had been doing pretty well but something stressed him out in a major way and he decided to drink. That undoes every other tool he has in coping. He opinion of a few days ago is “He is not guilty of disturbing the peace because they don’t they know how disturbed his peace is and they disturb it.” (He was yelling at unseen people). That was heartbreaking, but his following vent scares me…he is of the opinion jail will be peaceful. Because he has a disability they will be forced to isolate him.

I am thankful this thread started when it did because this is new territory for me. We have had the police involved for involuntary admit, but never any offense. Everyone who shared advice…THANK YOU.

You did not go wrong. Sometimes it is just the roll of the genetic dice or a tragic moment that flips a switch in brain processes. You are a successful mom because it is not the children who do well who reflect on us. It is the child who need us but is hard to love and we unfailingly still love them.


I do hope court goes well for your son, @thereisalwayshope . I think you know that I posted in Dec 2018 how it was an arrest and court that led to my daughter being medicated (so far stably). You have to work out for yourself if you want to speak to the judge and maybe ask for medical help for your son. Be true to your own inner self. I struggled with my decision, but then basically testified against my daughter with the conviction in my heart that it would have a good outcome. BTW she was kept isolated the entire time she was in jail (both times) as it was obvious that she was mentally ill. However, I also know of a young man with sz that was kept in general population. When is your court date for your son?

Wednesday. He appears to be handling it better today. I will go and see what happens. I don’t think he is looking at anything more than a fine. Hopefully some forced treatment. Last week I was sure though he was going to demand to be jailed. And that just would not be a good idea.

I will be thinking of you and your son tomorrow and hoping for a good outcome.

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What other illness lands people in jail? Such cruel illnesses are SZ and bi-polar. Please dont take his behavior personally. Im so sorry your son’s symptoms worsened and caused his incarceration. I pray the state hospital will stabilize him and that you can contact your local NAMI affiliate for referral to legal services, that when discharged you or a loved one apply for guardianship, get him connected to a community mental health agency that monitors his med compliance, get him ssdi and housing sep from you so you have some respite. and have energy to advocate for the supports he needs to remain stable. We have had a parallel path to yours with our 30 year old son who became ill at 20 and has had 15 hospitalizations and several contacts with police and court but no incarcerations, thankfully.


I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. When my son was in jail he refused to speak to me or let me visit him, did not call me and would not reply to any of my letters. This continued for about 4 months. He was eventually placed in a group home and that is the first time I had contact with him since he had been incarcerated. I know how you feel. I literally was crying every single day wondering if I would ever get to speak to my son again. Well we had a lot of talks after he was placed in the group home. What had happened was he went from jail into a rehab facility where he was finally diagnosed by a state psychiatrist with schizophrenia. It wasn’t until he was getting a proper dose of Risperdal that the voices in his head, which were telling him to not have any contact with me, were quiet enough for him to ignore them and finally reach out to me. I hope that your son can have some good medical psychiatric care, at that point you will have hope of having contact with your son again. The fact he won’t see you tells me he requires either more medication or different medication. My heart goes out to you so much, I know the black cloud you feel like you’re walking under everyday. I can tell you that I never prayed more in my life than during that time. I really took that time to draw close to God because I really have no other way to cope, and I know the scriptures say that God is close to the Brokenhearted. It breaks my heart to hear that the rest of the family has alienated him, he truly is sick, and NEEDS the SUPPORT of his family. Please don’t give up on him or yourself. Wish I could hug you right now, I know how awful life is for you right now. My son also told me that when he was in jail he did not want to have visitors because they strip-search them before and after each visit, and his symptoms of paranoia and the voices were so bad in jail that the strip search did not do anything except exasperate those symptoms which is understandable so I hope this helps you to feel less bad about the fact he doesn’t want visitors.

My son spent a year to the day in jail after he assaulted and injured me with a knife. He tells us that he felt traumatized by that year- in GP, with minimal medication and no therapy or other help. Delusions and paranoia continued for the year his lawyer took to handle the legal mess. My son says that he put himself in “hibernation mode” while he was there. I didn’t see him for that year but was able to keep in contact with emails and sporadic phone calls.
Now that he is at the State hospital and getting good treatment and therapy, he is much more able to focus on getting well and looking to the future. I can see the sweet boy that I used to know before the illness made him mean.
The hospital is definitely better than jail- it has increased his insight and his knowledge of his illness and I have real hope that he will have a life when he gets out.

Hang in there, it’s a long slow process- but for my son, at least, it has been his lifesaver.

You are so kind and thoughtful. As I read your post, the only thing I did was cry, and still crying. It hurts so bad. I mean really bad. I made another appointment to see him tomorrow. I am really scared. If he is going to refuse to see me again, I will probably have a nervous break down. I hate doing everything by myself. I have nobody to come with me. I appreciate your kindness :heart: and help. May the Lord bless you. Wish me luck.

I wish I could say it went well…or even it went so-so.

He refused to leave his home.

I know there more antidotal stories about the effect of the moon/season changes on behavior than scientific data, but lately his downward spirals seem connected. Or maybe I just want an explanation of why he refused to cooperate today when Monday he was cooperative.

There is a part of me that feels he should just deal with this on his own. Then there is the other part of me that knows how deep the fear of interacting with others is. I also know how callous the legal system can be yet he should feel some consequence from his behavior.

I am tired.