Mentally Ill and in Jail: A local mother shares her son's story

Mentally Ill and in Jail: A local mother shares her son's story

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Kathy knew something was different about her son at an early age.

The first signs were at 8 years old when he took apart her alarm clock, she asked him why and he said the voices in his head told him to do it.

At 9, he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

"It's very hard to take. It's very hard to accept," said Kathy.

Throughout his childhood, she felt her son was a "guinea pig," trying out different medications.

As an adult, he found a medication that worked. But when a new doctor switched it, he began having hallucinations again.

That's when he started having run-ins with the law.

One night, Toledo police were called out to his apartment. He was having hallucinations and got agitated. He was charged with assault on an officer and went to jail. Kathy says it was the worst place for him.

"No! Jail's not where they need to be," said Kathy. "I tried everything. I called the center. I called everywhere and they said the only way they could help him is if he walked in himself and said he needed help."

Kathy says her son did not get the medication he needed when he was in jail. He was confused when he was in jail and in court and didn't know why he was there.

"They can't protect these people, so the other prisoners are beating up on them. They can't get any sleep, these people are walking floors, they're hallucinating," said Kathy.

Because her son was an adult, Kathy had very little control over his medical care. She hired an attorney to help her navigate the justice system, and get him the help and medicine he needed.

"Because once they're 18, you have no say," said Kathy.

She says she wanted more information when she got to court. She says without much money, it's difficult to get treatment, and to get a good lawyer.

The lawyer she hired helped Kathy get power of attorney over her son's medical care, but it took her more than a year to do it.

Her advice to other parents: Get power of attorney before they turn 18. That way you have a voice in their medical care before it gets to a critical level.

"Stop changing their medicine when it's working. Why try something else? If it's working, leave it alone!" said Kathy.

So what's working... and what's not when it comes to our judicial system? Hear the response from our judges, police and mental health board. 

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2016 WTOL. All rights reserved.