Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, died alone and afraid in jail: Someone needs to pay

In case you believe you may have lost your capacity to feel outraged, check out this story in the Chicago Tribune,

As thefts go, this was about as petty as it gets: a Snickers bar, a 2-liter Mountain Dew and a Zebra cake worth about $5 total.

But a 24-year-old Portsmouth [Virginia] man died in jail while awaiting trial on the charges.

Jamycheal Mitchell, who had a history of mental illness, was found dead in his cell at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail early on Aug. 19, four months after being arrested and charged with petty larceny and trespassing at a 7-Eleven.

Still to be determined is how he died, why he was jailed for so long on such charges and who represented him during his months in jail. His next scheduled hearing date was Sept. 4.

Master Jail Officer Natasha Perry said Mitchell’s death appears to be from natural causes. Donna Price, spokeswoman for the state Medical Examiner’s Office, said its investigations typically take between 12 and 18 weeks.

Mr. Mitchell was incompetent to stand trial and the case should have been dismissed. Here’s the Trib article again,

A forensic psychologist evaluated Mitchell to determine whether he was competent to stand trial. The psychologist said Mitchell was “manic and psychotic” during the interview. “Mr. Mitchell’s thought processes were so confused that only snippets of his sentences could be understood, the rest were mumbled statements that made no rational sense,” wrote Evan Nelson.

Mitchell twirled around the visitation cell, rapped, spit on the floor and exposed himself, Nelson wrote.

Another court document for a mental health evaluation dated 2010 described Mitchell as “acutely psychotic.” Later that year, an evaluator wrote to the court that Mitchell was “unrestorably incompetent to stand trial” on a charge of petty larceny and recommended the case be dismissed, with continuing outpatient treatment.

Mr. Mitchell may have starved to death, according to relatives. His aunt, Roxanne Adams, who is a registered nurse, told The Guardian, which broke the story,

Adams said medics at the jail told her Mitchell refused to take medication for his conditions. Before his arrest her nephew was on prescriptions for the antipsychotic drugs Prolixin and Zyprexin, and the mood stabiliser Depakote, according to Adams. She said prison officials then prescribed him the antipsychotic drug Haldol and Cogentin, which is intended to reduce the side-effects of the other medication, but he refused to take the drugs.

[Little wonder since Haldol is an older generation drug rarely given anymore because it turns people into zombies with severe muscle spasms and a thousand-mile stare. Jails give it because it’s cheaper.]

Adams said prison officials said her nephew had also been declining to eat. She said she saw Mitchell in court in recent weeks and estimated that he had lost 65 pounds since being detained. “He was extremely emaciated,” said Adams.

The aunt said relatives had not been able to visit Mitchell because he had not given jail officials their names as approved visitors. “His mind was gone because he wasn’t taking his meds, so he didn’t have a list for anyone to see him,” she said.

Mr. Mitchell was being held in solitary confinement because that’s what jails do with the mentally ill. If the jail staff did not kill him by withholding food, he may have starved himself to death by refusing to eat or drink. The jail cannot escape responsibility for his death, if he starved himself to death, because they should have realized what was happening and transported him to a medical hospital long before he died.. Apparently, they did not give damn. Unfortunately, that too is typical of how jails treat the mentally ill.

The prosecution and the court also bear moral responsibility for his death because he was permitted, if not encouraged, to sign a waiver of his right to counsel while he was incompetent and unable to understand what he was doing. Neither can be sued because both have absolute immunity from liability for what they do, according to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

Although a public defender was eventually appointed to represent him, the lawyer was on vacation when he died. Because I do not know when, or even if, his lawyer knew that she had been appointed to represent him, I cannot determine whether she bears any responsibility for his death.

On May 21st, a judge found him incompetent to stand trial and ordered him transferred to a state mental hospital. Unfortunately, the transfer never happened. The jail claims that they were told that no bed was available at the hospital. The hospital isn’t talking. The lawyer is on vacation.

In short, everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else or refusing to talk.

Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. Due to gross negligence while in state custody, Jamycheal Mitchell is dead. He died alone and afraid.

This is how we treat the mentally ill in this country.

Possible side effects for Haldol

Possible side effects for Cogentin

29 Responses to Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, died alone and afraid in jail: Someone needs to pay

  1. Malisha says:

    Sorry to go OT but I couldn’t help it:


    There ought to be enough due process to make sure this guy no longer had either first OR second amendment liberties; he has abused all of the bill of rights continuously and skated for it.

    • Yeah, I saw that story. Did you notice the Confederate flag?

      • Malisha says:

        Oh yeah, I had to get my prescription for Composine refilled.
        Where’s our friendly neighborhood air marshall now, who says that Fogen had so many black friends he needed to have a token white friend? Nelson and DelaRionda should choke. What a sickening display of fakery they all took part in to kiss racist ass.

    • Zimmerman is who we thought he was. I wonder if the jurors have changed their minds ….

      • I wouldn’t bet the ranch, although the lady who expressed some misgivings after the trial, probably regrets her not-guilty vote.

      • gblock says:

        Based on what was described in Lisa Bloom’s book, Suspicion Nation, several of the jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty and, after hours of discussion, felt they couldn’t. Major issues affecting the deliberations were, first, that neither the judge nor the prosecution gave them a clear definition of manslaughter, and how that definition and the laws about self-defense might apply to this case, and second, that the prosecution didn’t present the jury with an alternate scenario to refute the head-banging claims of the defense. According to Bloom, juries will seldom take the step of creating an alternate scenario on their own, without help from the attorneys.

        With her limited education, Maddy was very much out of her element as a juror in this case. It is not likely that she could have argued the case in such a way as to persuade other jurors on her own. She also was clearly confused about some of the legal issues involved. It is not clear whether other jurors shared her confusion. She believed that Trayvon’s being “on top” meant that he was entitled to use deadly force. This belief is doubly unfortunate because it is likely that Trayvon was not on top at the moment of the shooting.

        I’ve only heard or read interviews of two jurors, Maddy and B37. Some of the other jurors evidently also had strong feelings favoring a conviction. It would be interesting to know more about their views. Has anyone heard or read anything that they said?

        • I thought the prosecutors did a poor job in numerous areas, but I also thought the presented enough evidence for a person of average intelligence to convict Zimmerman. Thank you for this additional information, gblock.

          • gblock says:

            You’re welcome. I just re-read my comment and found an ambiguous sentence. The sentence “She believed that Trayvon’s being “on top” meant that he was entitled to use deadly force” should be “She believed that Trayvon’s being “on top” meant that Zimmerman was entitled to use deadly force.”

            Apparently, one of the jurors (the book didn’t state whether or not it was B37) insisted that Trayvon was a “bad kid” who had planned to assault Zimmerman.

            The jury sent a note to the judge asking for an explanation of manslaughter, but were told that they had to ask a more specific question. They didn’t know how to phrase the question that they wanted answered, so they gave up and didn’t try,

          • gblock, thank you for clarifying, but I understood your original sentence. I followed this case/trial carefully and knew about the jurors’ question about manslaughter. I did not know, however, about one of the jurors calling Trayvon a “bad kid;” I think I need to read “Suspicion Nation” as I still have a great deal of interest in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

  2. I am curious to learn if Jamycheal Mitchell was a victim of America’s decades long and expanding National Epidemic of Childhood Abuse & Neglect, aka Poverty, that deprives developing children from experiencing and enjoying a safe, fairly happy American kid childhood.

    Emotional and physical abuse inflicted on them by immature American teen girls and women who irresponsibly begin building families before acquiring the skills, PATIENCE and means to raise fairly happy children WHO ARE NOT filled with rage, anger and RESENTMENT for being introduced to a life of hardship and struggle by incompetent maternal caregivers.


    • You are barking up the wrong tree.

      While still a child, he was diagnosed with severe mental illness: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These are organic brain disorders, not learned behaviors. He was delusional and could not distinguish between reality and his delusions. No one chooses to be schizophrenic or bipolar and there is no evidence that they are caused by bad parenting. In fact, I am not aware that there is any evidence of bad parenting.

      Moreover, there is no evidence that he was violent, filled with rage or ever abused. He shoplifted a soda and some candy. He did not assault anyone.

      He was so sick that he was deemed incurably incompetent. That means that even powerful anti-psychotic medication could not tame his delusions. To be competent, a person must be able to understand the nature of the charges against him and the possible consequences of conviction. He must also be able to communicate with his lawyer and assist him to represent him. Mr. Mitchell could not do any of these things.

      He needed to be hospitalized, not incarcerated.

  3. Kelly Payne says:

    Let the lies and the cover ups begin.

  4. Malisha says:

    In addition to everything else, there should be no jail for a non-jailable offense, and at the initial bail hearing, there should have been legal representation to point out that if this was a first offense for someone with no record, it would obviously result in — at most — probation and NOT incarceration, so there should have been no requirement for bond or bail. This is a definite 8th amendment case no matter how the wrongful death part of it shakes out.

    Who represents the estate of this young victim?

    • Shoplifting is a criminal offense punishable by jail time and he’d been in trouble for the same thing previously. However, he was incompetent and the case was dismissed. This time he signed a waiver of counsel that the court accepted even though he was still incompetent. Bail was set. He couldn’t afford it, so they locked him up and ended up killing him.

  5. This case illustrates absolutely everything wrong with lack of mental health care and institutional racism in America.

  6. Marsha says:

    In reference to the judge, there is no excuse for his acceptance of the delay in hospitalization but he may have been trying to do the right thing originally.

    Jamychael was clearly in need of help and his family would have had a very difficult time getting an involuntary hospitalization long enough to stabilize his meds. Based on my experience in the Huntington’s Disease community, it is very, very difficult to get guardianship when an adult is suffering from dementia or mental illness or to get them hospitalized and families try to use the crisis that an arrest causes (when one occurs) to get their loved ones help.

    I wish this difficulty in securing treatment stemmed from a respect for an individual’s right to be different but I believe it stems from a penny wise pound foolish desire to avoid government expenditures.

    • I’m upset with the judge who accepted Mr. Mitchell’s waiver of counsel at his first appearance in this case. Not with the judge who later found him incompetent (assuming it was a different judge).

      Yeah, I know it’s virtually impossible to get anyone involuntarily committed. Those who are committed almost always are cut loose within 72 hours.

      We used to confine people in mental hospitals. Then we emptied the hospitals in favor of assisted community living and outpatient clinics, but we never funded or staffed them adequately. Then we just gave up and decided to criminalize and incarcerate them in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives. Back to late 19th century inhumane crap.

      Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

      Matthew 25:40

  7. bronxlady1 says:

    This is so heartless that a mentally challenged person is thrown into solitary confinement indefinitely for “stealing” some junk food. Who are the “sick” one’s here?

    • Another major problem with our criminal justice system that must be changed, if we are to have meaningful reform, is to decriminalize mental illness and treat it as an illness instead of treating it as a crime. What we need to do and how we need to do it will be addressed in future articles.

    • Americans who are too stupid to know any better love to prattle on about how ‘exceptional’ we are without realizing that it’s a bad thing most of the time, not a good thing.

  8. Marsha says:

    In addition to the more obvious travesties of justice in this case which I also deplore, I have another to point out. Jamycheal was on the antipsychotic Zyprexa. It is expensive, several hundred dollars for a month’s supply. The jail medical staff took him off the Zyprexa and put him on the older, much cheaper antipsychotic Haldol which has a lot of unpleasant side effects. If indeed he refused his medication, that would likely be why. Had his psychosis not been not of control he would have been able to put his family on the list of visitors. That was the excuse made to family members trying to get into see him, that he hadn’t put them on a visitors list. They would have been in a better position to advocate for him and woukd have raised hell about his severe weight loss. He also would probably not have refused food if indeed the jail is telling the truth about that.

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