Journalists Beth Hundsdorfer and Molly Parker discovered a brutal beating of a patient and unearthed a long history of caretakers abusing disabled patients in Illinois. Read more
Mother asks Maricopa County prosecutors to release her daughter, a 19-year-old with mental illness, from Lower Buckeye Jail
Valentina Gloria, a 19-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, has been detained at Maricopa County’s Lower Buckeye Jail for nearly six months, since February of this year. Now Vangelina Gloria, Valentina’s mother, is pleading for her teen daughter’s release.
Some say Valentina’s case exemplifies how our legal system criminalizes mental illness. Her predicament also highlights the ways in which our criminal justice system fails at providing quality mental healthcare to those who need it.
With support from Puente Arizona, a Phoenix-based migrant justice organization, Vangelina wrote a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery earlier this week, requesting that he drop the charges against Valentina and release her from police custody. According to azcentral.com and court documents, Valentina has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, paranoia, depression, schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Vangelina believes that being in jail is exacerbating her daughter’s mental health condition.
How did Valentina end up in jail?
In December 2018, [Valentina] Gloria was being treated in a behavioral health unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was accused and arrested for spitting and punching two different nurses; she was then charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Then in May, a county judge ruled Valentina was incompetent to face the charges in court and ordered her to stay in jail to receive treatment through the County’s Restoration to Competency Program. A previous Arizona Republic analysis of Maricopa County’s Restoration to Competency Program expressed concerns about the program’s inefficiency and questioned the quality of the jailhouse mental healthcare provided by the county.
Click here to read an azcentral.com article recounting Vangelina’s efforts to secure Valentina’s release.
Mishandling mental health crises to blame for spike in officer-involved shootings
What accounts for the sharp increase in the number of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix last year? A lack of mental health resources, according to a report released by the National Police Foundation on Friday. The report, which was commissioned by the city of Phoenix as a response to last year’s spike in incidences of officer-involved shootings, points to a number of underlying causes for the uptick. That police officers are fielding a growing number of 911 calls involving people with mental health issues is one of them.
Phoenix police officers who were interviewed for the study said they felt unprepared to respond to these kind of situations. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams added that law enforcement officers shouldn’t be the first (or only) line of help available to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and that many of the calls her department receives could be rerouted to alternative resources.
Read the Cronkite News story online. You can also download a copy of the National Police Foundation’s 72-page report here.
Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council releases report on sexual abuse of Arizonans with disabilities
The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) has released a special report with recommendations for the Arizona State Legislature and Arizona state agencies to prevent sexual abuse of Arizonans with developmental disabilities.
While the recent crisis at Hacienda HealthCare continues to draw attention to problems within Arizona’s current system of monitoring and reporting sexual abuse of people with disabilities, almost no formal policies designed to recognize and prevent such abuse exist. The Council’s report is called “Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities” and it contains specific actions that state agencies and care providers can take to prevent the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults.
Read the ADDPC report: Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities
Labeling mass shooters as “sickos” perpetuates mental health stigmas
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior. Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.
Tampa Bay Times publishes 10yr update on Pulitzer-winning “Girl in the Window”
Danielle was almost 7 years old when detectives removed her from a filthy house in Plant City, Florida. She was so malnourished and neglected that doctors predicted she would be disabled for the rest of her life. The Tampa Bay Times’s Lane DeGregory won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her profile of Dani and her adoptive family. Yesterday, Nov 29, DeGregoy published a fascinating update about Dani’s condition. Check out DeGregory’s latest report by clicking HERE, and to read the original award-winning story click HERE.
The Toll of Solitary Confinement on Inmates with Disabilities
An op-ed from the Washington Post’s editorial board comments on an ACLU report that details damage faced by disabled inmates when they are placed in solitary confinement. The experience is often traumatic and the effects, difficult to reverse. Read more
Lawyer Could Cause Hundreds to Lose Disability Checks
Federal officials claim an attorney that hundred hired to fight to keep their disability checks funneled $600 million in fraudulent claims. Read more
Op-Ed: Children With Disabilities Face Taunts, Cruelty
In the wake of the Chicago attack on a teenager with intellectual disabilities, a New York Times writer reflects on the cruelty her brother faced as child. She writes of the Chicago attack, “His being different may be the main reason they chose him.” Read more
Hate Crime Rate Against People with Disabilities Decreases
New data from the FBI shows that the number of hate crimes against Americans with disabilities have declined. Read more