Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Schizophrenia and Jail

I am new to this, both to and schizophrenia in general, so please bear with me I will try to make it short.

My brother had a breakdown about two years ago and has never been the same since. Throughout that time he has been in two different mental facilities on a 5150 hold and has been diagnosed with bipolar 2. However it always seemed like there was more going on. At the beginning of this year he started admitting to us (his family) that he hears voices. His episodes started to become more frequent and everything just seemed to get worse.

He has never committed to taking medication or seeking help and our family never insisted on it because we didn’t want to push him away. Within the past couple of months he started to self medicate with alcohol and was arrested for a DUI and is now currently in jail for his second DUI and pending conviction for assault on an officer.

He has been in there for a month now and I am so afraid for him. I just saw him two days ago and he was going through a really bad episode. He is suicidal, he is already hurting himself in there because he has marks all on his arm when I saw him. It is hurting him to be in there but I am so lost as to what to do. I don’t understand why the physiatrist they have there is not doing anything. I am just so lost and scared for him and feel so helpless because I don’t know what I can do for him.

I know this was a lot to read and I don’t blame anyone for skimming or not reading it. But I appreciate any help/comments/thoughts anyone might have.

The psychward is like prison. i was there for half a year and it was worse than prison 'cause at least while in prison you have your sanity.

I think your brother needs to get on med’s. If he’s getting trouble with the law he needs to be stopped for his own good. If he gets another DUI he might end up doing hard time in prison, not jail. Anymore they are using the prisons as psych wards. They force them to take med’s in there. I hate to be harsh with someone who is experiencing the symptoms of sz, but I think making him take med’s is the best option.

A lot of the people in prisons have a mental illness, but our prison system is focused on punishment, not rehabilitation, so they usually don’t have a very good psych department. If he is hurting himself, a lawyer can probably get him moved to a psych center where they will monitor him better. The lawyer is key.

Bipolar 2 is very similar to schizophrenia. It frequently presents with hallucinations and delusions during manic episodes. A lot of other posters here have that. It all falls on the psychotic spectrum.

If you are looking for a way to help him, try getting a good lawyer to advocate for his treatment. Most of us don’t need to be forced into treatment because we are nonaggressive. That isn’t the case for him. A judge can court order drug injections for him since he has violent tendencies. Be prepared though. The wrong medication can make things a lot worse, and doctors are basically just making educated guesses at what might work for a specific person. It sometimes takes years to find a drug that helps. For me it took ten years.

Do you want to have empathy with men in prison? Do you know that many of those are murderers and the worst kind of rapists? Just so you can think about the empathy before having any.

Most of them are nonviolent drug offenders. And I have empathy for even murderers and rapists. I have had to learn to identify rapists as human beings instead of inhuman monsters, because that helped me stop being afraid of them. Now I just feel bad for them, and I can forgive them.

So sorry to hear about your brother I am in the same circumstance.My long time girlfriend is facing a very long prison term due to hearing voices and getting in a car accident.She was shoplifting due to the voices telling her got stopped and ran ,eluded police and got in the wreck.One driver was hurt not life threatening but they are not sympathetic to people with mental issues.They are trying at all cost to prove that she was high not having mental issues.She tested positive due to a diet med she had taken and they are really hammering on that.Like I’ve posted before when someone is suffering like your brother is don’t expect any sympathy from the legal system.Its sad but they would rather put people in prisons than get them the help they need to lead a productive life.Unfortunately unless you have a lot of money to hire a big time attorney they become a prison statistic.I hope you don’t live in Grant County Ky because they don’t care about good people who are having mentsl problems that cause them to do something that for them in a normal state of mind would never had occured.I know how much you are worried I lay awake a lot anymore feeling helpless and hopeless.You have no voice and inside you are screaming.There is nothing anyone can say to ease your pain.If anyone tries to tell you some foolish reasoning then they don’t understand the love you feel for your brother.Hang in there but it will not be easy.Prepare yourself for a lot of heartache.

**I would strongly reccomend that you get a lawyer for him!
You and your family must be his advocates!
Try to get in touch with social services in your area and let them know the whole story. If you can get a case manager for him, they may be able to get some meds for him.
if he ends up in mental health court, that could do a world of good!
Hopefully your whole family is on board and all of you can go to court with him. Jail is a scary place.
Good luck!!! **

If he’s been arrested and he’s in jail, then he almost certainly already has a court appointed lawyer. Find out who that person is, and contact them. Make sure that the attorney knows about your brother’s psychiatric issues. Tell the attorney that he is suicidal. If he is harming himself and suicidal, they may be able to put him on a psych hold and have him transferred to a hospital. You can also tell the attorney that you feel your brother is unable to assist in his defense- that should definitely get him a psych eval. You can also speak to jail staff. Let them know he is suicidal, and let them know that he is suffering from a psychotic break and needs to be hospitalized. Another thing to try, is to speak to the prosecutor. Tell them about his psychiatric illness, and ask that they apply a requirement that he seek and maintain treatment as a condition of his probation. They won’t help with getting him into a hospital and out of jail, but they can make sure that the obligation to get treatment is part of his plea deal. They may do it anyway, it depends on where you are. If people ignore you, become very insistent. If your brother’s attorney is a real asshole and refuses to deal with getting him help, threaten to report him to the bar- as a last resort of course.

Seriously, hire a private lawyer, if you can afford it in any way. A court appointed lawyer is overworked and doesn’t have the time necessary to devote to a mental health case. You get what you pay for in our legal system, unfortunately.

Thank you all for the reply’s!

@Unlucky1977 I am sorry that you are going through that. You summed it up perfectly of what I am feeling though, what a lot of us who are going through this feel.

I am afraid that he will get lost in the system. We were able to change his lawyer to a specific mental health lawyer (the original one he was appointed was in way over his head). Unfortunately we are not able to afford a private lawyer but, as most have mentioned, it seems like his lawyer should be able to get him help or do the things we’re not able to. I will just keep bugging her until she does something I guess. He did get an evaluation while he was in jail but that was weeks ago and he is still there.

I called the jail today because his visitation times got taken down and, after being bounced back and forth between people, someone finally gave me an answer that he was put into “booking” which is a place where they put inmates for various reasons but ultimately to “watch” him.

Thank you all again. My family and I just feel like the blind leading the blind in this and it helps to know that others have made it through this.

The best bet will be to get your own lawyer. John Oliver did a really good piece on court appointed lawyers. The summary is that court appointed lawyers have a HUGE case load. On average they have less than 10 minutes per case. The system is designed so that the court appointed lawyer will almost always try to get you to plead guilty or no contest, and then they are done with your case.

Here is the video, if you are interested.

My family is facing possibly the same situation with my brother. He has a warrant out right now for probation violation on a dui. We are scared that when they put him in jail he’s going to unravel bc of lack of meds. It’s scary, very stressful.

In my experience, it depends. Some hired lawyers are the same ones that do public defense, and can be just as good or just as crappy, whatever the case may be. Some of the hired ones don’t know the criminal justice system well enough to be effective. It’s when you have tons of money that it makes a big difference, in my experience. I worked with criminal defendants and their attorneys for 20 yrs. It depends on where you live also. So maybe where you’re from cj9556, that could be true.

Msea, does he take meds normally? If they take him into custody, they are required to provide his medications for him. Call down there and make sure they know it. Bring the jail his prescription, and medications, and let them know that if he misses a dose and isn’t provided proper treatment to lower his anxiety level, then it’ll shoot him into a psychotic episode. And if they get really pissy with you, remind them that it would be unfortunate if you have to take them to court to recover his hospitalization costs, just because they didn’t treat his condition correctly. Always try the nice and concerned card first, however.

Splifferton That John Oliver video is funny. It has a lot of legitimate criticism as well, but there are a few things I’d correct though. For one, if 90-95% of people plead guilty, it’s because they are guilty in the very large majority of cases. There is always a % of people who plead guilty, or are found guilty, that aren’t, and some that are found not guilty, that are. It’s a much smaller number than most people think. Second, I don’t think I know any law office that has investigators on staff. Investigation expenses are court approved, and paid by the state. So some of the stuff he says is on target, some is not.

Well you obviously know a lot more about this than me, so I’ll stay quiet about it. I’m glad to hear it’s not all as bad as my brother’s experience with public lawyers.