Civil commitment leaves Hennepin County offenders languishing

Mentally ill inmates wait months for evaluation, treatment

"Well, I guess one of the most poignant questions is: How did this happen in the first place?" Quam asked during the hearing. "I take it...you agree that it's not appropriate to leave someone like Mr. Brewer or Mr. Gates or others in a jail for an extended period of time?"

"Your honor, we are in complete agreement with that," replied Mike Tessneer, then CEO of the Department of Human Services.

Tessneer explained that the system is simply overwhelmed. Patients are being committed to hospitals from all over the state faster than others are leaving. When there is a sudden influx of patients, there just aren't enough beds for everyone. "The flow looks like it works, but there will be times when it does not."

In the years prior to anti-psychotic medications, Minnesota's mental health system focused on long-term institutionalization
courtesy of the MN Dept. of Human Services
In the years prior to anti-psychotic medications, Minnesota's mental health system focused on long-term institutionalization
Judge Jay Quam believes that the civil commitment system needs to be reformed
Craig Lassig
Judge Jay Quam believes that the civil commitment system needs to be reformed

Quam later called Lt. Tom Sizer, a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy who works at the jail, to testify about the problems of mentally ill inmates.

"As far as psychiatric care, mental health care for the persons confined within the jail, I think we're doing a pretty dang good job compared to statewide," testified Sizer.

But even with all the resources and training of the facility, the jailers can only do so much, Sizer continued. The care the jail can offer is limited, especially for people who are mentally ill and dangerous.

"One of the biggest frustrations for the jail is the Rule 20 process itself," explained Sizer. "By nature of just being a jail, we are essentially a warehouse for the court."

Tessneer ultimately proposed a triage plan that would move mentally ill patients out of the jail within seven days of commitment. But nine months after the most recent hearing, questions persist about whether the Department of Human Services is keeping up its end of the bargain. Just last month, for example, a man named Abdiyare Abi sat in jail for twice that time waiting to be transferred to a hospital.

The problem continues to be a simple lack of resources, says Tessneer, now project manager in the State Operated Services compliance office.

"We have a finite number of beds, so we try to maximize the number of beds and efficiency and use of those beds," he says.

Today, people like Abi are the exception rather than the rule, says Maureen O'Connell, assistant commissioner for the Department of Human Services for chemical and mental health. O'Connell says her office is working on a system that will move patients through inpatient treatment and back into their communities faster, freeing up more hospital beds.

"Anticipate over the next year that we will be working very hard on this issue across the state," she says.

But the damage may already be done. In Minnesota, we've slipped further and further down a road where jails and prisons are replacing mental health facilities. It may be too late to go back now, says Dr. Lawrence Pancieria.

"We've gone down that road big time," says Panciera. "I don't know if you'll be able to reverse that.

"We've set up a system where a lot of mentally ill people are being managed in the jail system. And if you were to do it differently, it would be very, very expensive. I just don't see that happening in the near future." 

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9 comments
t.tholetim
t.tholetim

Minnesota also does not mandate any advocacy for criminal & civil cases a like, in any aspect of the Minnesota Judicial system sanction by the Federal "United" States of America government.

t.tholetim
t.tholetim

P.S. Its like how everyone forgets Charles Lindbergh turned to join the German Nazi's for monetary reasons. That's a fact of the Little Falls, MN natives life. What's more evil, being honest & telling people what actually is happening & going to happen or masking plans & actions in fake to reality poetry, likewise to, "We the people,.."

t.tholetim
t.tholetim

Minnesota practices a different capital punishment. One likewise to the degenerate Thomas Jefferson, claiming, "We the people,..." to veil in a cloak of fancy linguistics to mask their Demonic Actions. If your "diagnosed" with a " severe" mental "illness", your sanctioned by the State of Minnesota to a life long, cruel & unusaul, torturious death by lethal injection of chemicals that cripple the human body as a whole. Lambs to the slaughter as it were. When people ask me, "Tim, do you think its more dangerous to take up residency in Texas or Minnesota?" I answer, "It will always be more dangerous to be a resident in Minnesota, U.S.A., than any other state in the Union." & you all can take that to the federal reserve "bank".

t.tholetim
t.tholetim

Fuck you, (The writer of this article, that is) & all your "Civil" commitments.

t.tholetim
t.tholetim

Fuck you, (The writer of this article that is) & your "civil" commitments.

Prizm2500
Prizm2500

It disgusted me to read about Ahmed Hassen and Edgar Coleman. These parasites of society should just be shot in a field and left to rot. They add no value to society- all they do is use up resources and degrade the quality of life of people that have to interact with them.

MMZIEMAN47
MMZIEMAN47

RAMSEY COUNTY DOES THE OPPOSITE. I HAD NIECE PUT IN THE REGIONS HOSPITALBY A PROSECUTOR WITH A VENDETTA WHO HAS ALREADY BEEN COMMITTED ANDGONE THROUGH ANOKA TREATMENT PROGRAM AND THEN THROUGH THE COURTSYSTEM AFTER BEING CONFIRMED COMPETENT FOR A 2 MINUTE FLEEING POLICEWHEN SHE WAS ILL AND DID NOT KNOW THEY WERE BEHIND HER. MY NIECE WASWAS IN TOTAL REMISSION AND THIS WAS CONFIRMED BY THE EXAMINATION AFTERHER COURT REQURED HER A ER. CRISIS EXAM THAT STATED SHE WAS IN TOTALCOMPLIANCE OF HER MEDICATIONS AND SENT HER BACK TO HER APARTMENT SHEHAD OCCUPIED (9 MONTHS) FROM HER RELEASE FROM ANOKA TREATMENT FACILITY. MY NIECE WAS DOING THE BEST THAT SHE EVER WAS THE DOCTORS THAT NEW HER STATED THIS ALSO. THE PROSECUTOR COULD NOT FIND A DOCTOR TO ADMIT HER TO THE HOSPITAL. SO HE EXPARTED HER FOR BEINGMENTALLY ILL & DANGEROUS USING THE SAME LAW THE CRIMINAL JUDGERELEASED HER ON. THIS WAS BECAUSE NO DOCTOR WOULD ADMIT HER!THE INVOLUNTARY HOLD COURT ORDERED SHE WAS AS THE DOCTORS STATEDABSOLUTELY NO MEDICAL CARE NECESSARY! THIS HOLD WITHOUT A DISCHARGEDATE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO STRESS AND DEPRESSION, THIS IS BORDERING ONINTENTIONAL INFLICTIOL OF EMOTION DISTRESS! THIS WAS CHARTED DAILY INHER MEDICAL RECIRDS AND SENT TO RAMSEY COUNTY ATTORNEY OFFICE DAILYPER STAFF REPORT. THEY HELD HER THERE FOR 6 WEEKS AT $2600.00 DOLLARSA DAY WITH NO MEDICAL CARE NECESSARY AND AFTER 6 WEEKS SHE DID BECOMEILL AS THE DOCTOR STATED, THEY THEN SENT HER TO ST. PETERS WERE SHE STILL IS AT WITH NO RECORD OF EVER HARMING NO ONE. THE HOSPITAL COSTBILLED TO MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AT THE REGIONS HOSPITA;L WAS $158,000.00.PAYED BY THE TAXPAYERS AND HER INDITERMINE STAY A ST. PETERS HOSPITALCONTINUES TO BE PAID BY THE TAXPAYERS. MY NIECE DOE NOT BELONG THERETHIS IS OUT OF A VERY WELL DOCUMENTED VENDETTA FROM THE PROSECUTORSOFFICE. EVIDENDLY RAMSEY COUNTY PROSECUTORS DON'T CARE WHAT IT COSTTHE TAXPAYERS. AS LONG AS THEY GET WHAT THEY WANT! I AM SURE THEY COULD SPEND THIS MONEY ON SOMETHING MORE PRODUCTIVE LIKE GOING AFTERREAL DANGEROUS PEOPLE ON THE STREETS THEN PICKING A DISABLED MENTALILLNESS PERSON WHO NEVER HARMED ANYONE THAT WAS IN FULL REMISSION.AT LEAST HENEPIN COUNTY HAS REAL SICK PEOPLE IN THERE JAILS AND HOSPITALSAT $120.00 A DAY VERSUS RAMSEY COUNTY JAILING THIS PERSON $2600.00 A DAY.MY NIECE HAD RETURNED TO HER APARTMENT AFTER TREATMENT FOR THEPREVIOUS 9 MONTHS AND HELD THIS APARTMENT OVER 6 YEARS. THE PREVIOUSJUDGE DID NOT HOLD HER BECAUSE SHE NEW SHE WAS NOT DANGEROUS. THEHER RENT WAS $625.00 A MONTH SHE IS ON SOCIAL SEVURITY AND RECEIVEDSECTION8 ASSIST! THE PROSECUTOR WANTED HER LOCKED UP! CLAIMING SHEWAS A DANGER AND BROUGHT IN A DIFFERENT JUDGE TO EXCEPT THE EXPARTE!SO THEY PAID $2600.00 A DAY TO KEEP HER IN THE HOSPITAL AND THE DOCTORSIN THE HOSPITAL TRIED TO GET HER DISCHARGED AND THE PROSECUTIOR SAIDSHE NEEDS TO STAY THERE AND GET STABLE!!! TH HOSPITAL TOLD HER COURTAPOINTED ATTORNEY "THIS IS NOT A JAIL, IF YOU WANT HER IN JAIL PUT HERTHERE"! COURT APPOINTED ATTORNEY REPLIED SHE CAN'T GO TO JAIL!!!!

portia chalifoux
portia chalifoux

The graphic is so disappointingly dehumanizing and only serves to reinforce dismal stereotype. Straitjacket and a featureless face? Is that what people who are suffering with severe and debilitating mental illness inspire as a visualization? Soulless, inhumane and without compassion - the new American way, which the story reinforces.

PaPa
PaPa

How the mentally ill are treated in the court system was reported in an accurate manner but the issue of the costs involved was really not relevant. Apparently what the reporter did not know and failed to follow up with is that once an offender is determined to be mentally incapable of a trial and sentenced to a mental facility those costs are still the burden of the county of committ.

And even if convicted, and sentenced to prison, the mentally ill sent to state mental health facilities such as St.Peter are still the cost burden of the convicting county. Offenders sentenced by the state can even do time in state prisons and later found mentally ill and thus transferred to St. Peter and then have their state time stopped and the county of committ then picks up the costs....which are on a daily rate five times that of prison. The mentally ill will always be the burden of the county, whether jammed up in the county court system or sent to a state facility.

 
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