Solitary Confinement Is A Despicable Way To Treat The Mentally Ill

December 8, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Good evening:

Reginald ‘Neli’ Latson is a black 23-year-old autistic boy with Asperger’s and an IQ of 69. He is locked-up in solitary confinement in Virginia. His crime: Wearing a hoodie while black when he was 18-years-old and sitting on the grass outside a public library waiting for it to open.

From the Facebook page, Justice for Reginald Latson,

One day, he took a walk to the local library as he often did, but found it to be closed. He waited outside the library for it to open. Somebody at a school near the library called the police, saying that there was a suspicious person sitting near the library who he or she believed had a gun. The police ordered a lockdown on local schools and went searching for the supposed gunman.

Shortly afterwards, a “school resources officer” and sheriff deputy approached Neli, recognizing him as the person that the police were searching for. According to the police, Neli attacked the officer for no apparent reason. According to Neli and his family, however, he complied with a search, which resulted in no gun being found, was threatened and then tried to leave, but the deputy grabbed him from behind. A struggle ensued, during which the deputy used pepper spray on Neli. Neli himself eventually got his hands on the can of pepper spray and, depending on whose account one believes, either used it on the officer or fled from the scene. At some point during the fight or pursuit, the deputy suffered a broken ankle and a cut to the head.

Sound familiar? I suppose Neli is lucky to be alive. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and many others too numerous to mention are dead.

Then again, maybe he isn’t so lucky. He is locked up 23 hours per day isolated in a cell with a hole in the floor for a toilet and no bed, television or radio. He is permitted one hour per day out of his cell to exercise in a somewhat larger cell.

Solitary confinement is torture. Why is the State of Virginia torturing him?

The distressing simple answer is: Solitary confinement is the only option available in jail because he is unsuitable for general population and is hostile to staff. His situation is not unusual because this is how our nation ‘treats’ the mentally ill. For example, the Los Angeles County Jail is our nation’s largest psychiatric facility.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post
explains what happened to Neli after he was convicted of assaulting the deputy and placed in a group home upon successfully completing a residential treatment program,

When Latson became agitated after a visit with his mother, staff unfamiliar with his routines called police. Latson asked the officer to shoot him and tried to grab his gun. Instead of treating this like the mental health crisis it was, Frederick County, where the episode took place, filed felony charges. Olsen [the white prosecutor] seized on the episode as a probation violation and moved to revoke Latson’s probation.

Transferred back to the Stafford County jail against the judge’s recommendation, Latson had another run-in with authorities. Taken off his anti-psychotic medications and suicidal, he hit an officer as he was being moved from solitary into a “crisis cell” with no bed and a hole in the floor for a toilet.

Neli’s lawyers want the judge to place him in a secure mental health treatment facility in Florida, a recommendation supported by Virginia mental health authorities who have secured federal funding to pay for his placement.

Unfortunately, the prosecutor has other plans. He is refusing to support the placement because he is determined to prosecute and convict Neli of assaulting the officer in jail. Marcus explains why,

Latson’s intellectual disability, Olsen has argued in court, is “an aspect of convenience. When his advocates want him to be retarded, he is.”

Olsen grudgingly acknowledges that Latson has been diagnosed with autism but contends that the 23-year-old’s problems in the criminal justice system do not arise from his disability. “He is a person with autism that also has this hate, this racial hate and this hate for law enforcement,” Olsen said.

That last quote tells me all I need to know. The prosecutor is a racist because only a racist would even think to accuse Neli of “racial hate.”

Of course the kid hates cops. Why wouldn’t he?

Olsen probably thinks of himself as a good Christian. He isn’t. But for Olsen, Neli would be safely receiving the treatment he needs for his mental illness instead of being housed in solitary confinement, untreated.

44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45″Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'”

Matthew 25:44-45

Game within the game: Why defense fears Pistorius evaluation

May 20, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Good morning:

According to the Guardian, Judge Masipa has ordered Oscar Pistorius to spend 30 days as an outpatient at Weskoppies state psychiatric hospital in Pretoria, beginning on Monday 26 May.

• He must attend every weekday between 9am and 4pm (or until excused by the medical superintendent at the hospital).

• The four professionals overseeing his assessment include Dr. Leon Fine, Professor Herman Pretorius and Dr. Jonathan Scholtz.

• This panel will compile separate reports for the court to judge whether Pistorius was criminally liable for his actions, and whether he “appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct”.

• Setting out the details and purpose of Pistorius’s evaluation, Masipa said:

“The panel [of mental health professionals] will establish whether the accused was by mental illness or defect criminally responsible for his actions.

The panel will also seek to establish whether Pistorius appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct.”

• The court will resume on 30 June to hear the results of the evaluation.

Dr. Scholtz is a psychologist. Dr. Fine and Professor Pretorius are psychiatrists.

Here’s a description of what will happen during the 30 day observation and evaluation provided by Carly Danielle, a psychologist who did her internship at Weskoppies state psychiatric hospital where Pistortius will be evaluated. This is a standard procedure.

Conduct lengthy psychiatric interviews in which they will obtain his full life history, his family background, his criminal history, and also importantly his psychiatric history.

Administer a range of psychological and other tests. These will include personality tests, neuropsychological tests, tests for malingering (the technical term for faking a mental illness) and general cognitive tests that evaluate each and every cognitive process from intelligence to memory. Each test can take between 30min – 3 hrs to complete. It is an extremely rigorous process. To give an example, the MMPI (The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) has over 500 items.

Observe him during every single minute of every procedure. In addition to the formal interviews and tests, OP’s every move will be scrutinized. He will be evaluated on his appearance, attitude, behaviour, mood and cognitions.

After each member of the team has concluded theses procedures, they will then meet and together they will formulate a diagnosis.

The first question is whether he suffered from mental illness or defect at the time of the shooting.

Dr. Vorster diagnosed him with a general anxiety disorder, which qualifies as a mental disease or defect under DSM V. The panel may agree or disagree. Regardless, I believe there is a substantial probability that they may diagnose him with an antisocial personality disorder and/or narcissistic personality disorder.

Either or both will eliminate any possibility of a favorable outcome to this process for Pistorius because people who have that diagnosis can distinguish between right and wrong and appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct, but they go ahead and commit the crime because they want to and think they can get away with it. If they do get caught, they will often attempt to lie their way out of trouble.

Probably most politicians, corporate CEOs, white collar criminals and the criminal banksters share this diagnosis. Many cops do too.

Defense counsel, Barry Roux, will argue, that because of his general anxiety disorder, OP misinterpreted the sounds he heard as caused by an intruder instead of by Reeva Steenkamp.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel will argue that OP shot her to death because he lost his temper during an argument in which she threatened to leave him and then he lied about it to escape legal responsibility.

The problem with the defense argument is that even an anxious person has a duty to exercise reasonable caution to avoid shooting through closed doors with intent to kill the person on the other side without determining if she be friend or foe and when the use of deadly force isn’t reasonably necessary to protect themselves from death or serious bodily injury.

Barry Roux knows this and that is why he so vigorously resisted the 30 day commitment. He also probably fears that the team will come back with the APD and/or NPD diagnosis.

If you appreciate my game-within-the-game analysis of what is really going on beneath the surface in this case, please make a donation today. There have been only four donations this month totaling $45 and that is beyond depressing. Please help us keep the lights on.


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