4. Back through the revolving door

Chapter 4 in a series on mental illness.

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It is starting all over again. It’s like a bad dream. It is defeating. I attended my brother’s court hearing today and want to comment on how I feel. How the system is broken.

[Note: Elsewhere see excerpt’s of Tony Allard’s writing about his own mental illness .]

The entire morning was for servicing the homeless. The judge, who I was told would not be his trial judge, seemed to be acting more as a clerk, issuing edicts to the litany of homeless defendants who were parading through the court this morning prior to my brother’s appearance. His decisions were delivered in a monotone script-like sequence of statements. He seldom looked up to see who he was issuing his edicts to.

The judge and clerks and attorneys all dressed in nice suits. The defendants were all disheveled in prison garb or tatters, hair unkempt, one being told that she could no longer sleep near the California Incline.

Then it was my brother’s turn.

The system is converting my brother, who suffers from mental illness, into a criminal. And, surely in my brother’s mind, pitting him against me and me against him.

This morning, he refused to enter the court room since I was there. So his public defender pleaded not guilty on his behalf to his having violated a restraining order I have filed against him.

His next court date is a pre-trial hearing on September 29, three weeks from now.

So, after having just been released from six months in jail after being sentenced to time served on a charge of assault and battery for what was really being delusional, grabbing a woman’s purse, throwing it on the ground and walking away, one week later he is back in jail and awaiting another trial.

He is back through the revolving door.

The system is broken. It presupposes that my brother is able to make his own decisions in his interest. He is not able to do that.

During his one week of “freedom” he was homeless. He showed up at midnight at an ex-girl friend and was asked to leave. He spent one night sleeping in the back of a pick up truck of an old friend who called the police on him. He went barefoot after throwing away the shoes I had given him, and evidently spent all of his money I had returned to him, most likely gambling it away.

During all his recent times in courts his mental illness was not considered and, in jail, barely, if at all, treated. He is kept isolation most of the time and given some meds, which he claims he does not take. It must be torture for him, that lonliness.

The system is broken. In most respects he is treated legally as a threat to society and a criminal or suspect and not as a person with a severe health problem requiring treatment.

It is pathetic. Here in America. Where we spend $1 Trillion per year more then necessary to enrich health insurance company executives and stock holders and operate a provably inefficient system.

Do you wonder why I or other friend’s of my brother do not offer him housing? It is because he is acting like a raving maniac. We have all been pushed to the brink. We have lives of our own to deal with. Life becomes intolerable when Tony is raging against everything and everyone. I am practically the only person left trying to get him some help and the system will not let me do that since it imputes rationality to Tony and expects him to ask for help. So, another homeless mentally ill person is the result.

The hearing today was for a violation of my restraining order issued last March after my brother had made threatening remarks about our mother’s care givers. I do not believe he will carry through on the threats but I cannot take a chance since his illness makes him irrational. And, by having the restraining order, I have one legal way to make the system take him into custody, in the hope that will lead to his getting treatment.

But that hope too seems futile.

I went to the hearing equipped with a letter for the judge and attorneys. The Public Defender, Kimberley Green accepted my letter. The DA did not seem very interested in it and successfully argued that my brother remain in custody by citing my brother’s growing record of arrests and convictions, not mentioning his mental illness. The public defender did tell the judge that mental illness was an issue. The judge isn’t the judge who will hear the case, so there was no point in giving the letter to him.

The letter was a summary of my bother’s history and a recommendation, really just an expression of hope, that he be treated again at Harbor UCLA hospital, where the staff is willing to pursue a conservatorship.

Three weeks from now I will attend his next hearing and give the letter to the trial judge, if that is permitted. Maybe it won’t be permitted. I may not have a legal right to help my brother.

And I am tired, so tired of this.

One ray of hope for my brother, not that he would view it that way, is based on a phone call I received from Jose Colon, who was his public defender in the purse grabbing case. Mr. Colon seemed to indicate to me that if my brother were conserved, the state appointed guardian would have the legal ability to choose to house my brother in a lock down facility were that necessary. At this point, after twenty three years of this, and with my brother increasingly unwilling to take his meds, that seems like the only hope there may be for him to survive.

[ story continued: excerpt’s of Tony Allard’s writing about his own mental illness .]

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