Friday, November 9, 2012

Starving Mental Patients in U.S. Jails

Elliott Williams, 37, a mentally ill black man, died in a Tulsa, Oklahoma jail cell where he was kept for days without food or water. He was dead within five days of his incarceration.
Dog Justice Is Needed for America's Mentally Ill Citizens

In a horrific story out of Oklahoma, lawyers representing the estate of a prisoner who was found dead in the Tulsa Jail have sued the local sheriff’s office and the jail’s private health care provider. In a motion just filed in federal court, attorneys have asked a judge to release a video made of the man’s final two days, during which he allegedly languished in an isolation cell without food, water, or medical attention.

Elliott Earl Williams, 37, was pronounced dead in his cell at 11:21 a.m. Oct. 27, 2011, after allegedly going days without food and water.

According to the motion seeking release of the video and related documents, Williams–who had exhibited signs of mental illness–tried to hurt himself and ran into a steel door head-first after being placed in a booking cell upon arrival at the jail October 22.  Read more about Williams' murder at this link

This writer does not know if Williams died of an untreated head injury caused by running into a steel door or by dehydration and starvation. Another mentally ill man was arrested in October 2011 and emerged from incarceration in a body bag. Carlos Umana, a schizophrenic youth, starved to death after four months in a Utah jail. See the excerpt below from an article I published in my MaryLovesJustice blog about his demise:

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that a young prisoner who apparently suffered from serious mental illness died of starvation and dehydration after spending four months in the Salt Lake County Jail, much of them in solitary confinement. Carlos Umana, 20, weighed at 180 pounds when he entered the jail in October 2011; when he died on February 27, 2012 he weighed just 77 pounds (see photographs below). Tests showed that none of his prescribed psychiatric drugs were in his system at the time of his death.

Carlos Umana before arrest

Carlos Umana's emaciated corpse
after starvation in jail

As a teenager, Umana was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to the Tribune, his mother, Tammy Martinez, said that Umana had stopped taking his medication in the fall. Then he started hearing voices and thinking people were poisoning him. "Umana was so concerned about people poisoning him," she said, "that he started preparing all his own food." (Continue reading about Carlos at "Mass Incarceration and Murders of America's Mental Patients - Utah Story"  )

My mentally ill brother, Larry Neal, died after 18 days of secret arrest in Memphis Shelby County Jail in 2003 . Our family does not know if Larry was starved to death, Tasered, brutalized, or killed in a restraint chair, because his death is a government cover-up, and my family is denied any release of records. Since that time, I have endeavored to alert the world as to how mentally ill people and their families are mistreated. Homelessness, prison, and death must cease to be our response to mental illness, a common, treatable health condition. Please see more stories in this blog and also visit Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill at . America presently has 1.25 million mentally ill people incarcerated. I would especially appreciate it if someone would check on and please help Rodriguez Nelson, who was given a 56-year sentence for having a fight with his girlfriend.

Williams, Umana, and Larry all had documented mental health issues, but not every person who experiences a mental health crisis does. Some people snap under the strain of economic hardships and other life-changing stresses. Unfortunately, many people who break under pressure do not live through a lunacy arrest. Police should apprehend mentally challenged persons without resorting to deadly force. Consider the case of Dejuan Eaton. Fremont police shot Eaton as he allegedly chased his wife with a knife from their apartment while he was naked on November 4. See an excerpt of a news article about his death:

DEJUAN EATON, 37, had just received the news that his 18-year-old brother had accidentally shot himself in the head while handling a loaded firearm earlier that evening, according to his father, Alonzo Eaton. It was at that time that Dejuan Eaton, described as a loving, family man, was pushed to his limit.

"He had just lost his grandfather last Thursday, then to hear about his brother, it blew him over the edge," Alonzo Eaton said Tuesday. "I lost two sons within an hour of each other." (Read more at this link )
Our condolences to the families of Umana and Williams. Both these deaths resulted in lawsuits that burden taxpayers for brutal treatment under the color of law. Luckily, the families found attorneys who filed their lawsuits, unlike the Neal family. We contracted with The Cochran Firm, which pretended to act as our wrongful death attorneys but held Larry's wrongful death case secretly inactive while the Tennessee statute of limitations passed in order to help the jail escape accountability. Google "Cochran Firm Fraud." Condolences for Alonzo Eaton and his family, also. 

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