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Dear Mr. Graves,

Something must be done about mental health and our legal system. I am a RN and have been an RN for 23 years. I have served various communities by being a nurse in the ER, psychiatric and prison fields. I do the nursing no one else wants to. While working at my current job, which is at a psychiatric emergency receiving facility, my 25-year-old son had a schizophrenic break. He had eight involuntary hospitalizations last year alone. He hallucinates. He has religious delusions and thinks he is possessed by the devil. His abdomen is covered in bruises where he claws to get the “demons” out. He talks to God all day. I go into the kitchen and he has put the milk in the cupboard. He smashed all of my glasses in my kitchen because he thought God told him to. I try to send him into the store to get one item; he comes out 15 minutes later and can’t remember what he went in for. While I was at work one night, he was at home and overtook his meds because he forgot he already took them. I found him dead on my bathroom floor and had to do CPR until EMS got there. I had bruises in the shape of bathroom tiles on my knees.

With a diagnosis of schizophrenia, you have to be observed for one year and exhibit certain behaviors. His first hospitalization was Jan. 5, 2018, so we have just reached that year mark where we can file for disability. It took me almost losing my job and being homeless before I could find someone willing to take care of him. He is too old for my insurance, can’t get disability yet and can’t possibly work, so as you can imagine no one would see him for free. I finally got him involved in a program called the ACT team here in Rome. They offer free psychiatric service for anyone who can’t afford to pay for healthcare. The doctor specializes in homeless people. He is a saint. As of November 2018 my son is getting treatment with doctors and nurses coming to our house (does this not clue you in as to how sick he is?), monthly injections, daily meds and weekly treatment team meetings. This is just the beginning for him. Now we are looking at many months of trying new medications to see how they affect him and what will work for him. His normal now is still talking to people who are not there and carrying on full conversations with them. He is unable to be unsupervised because he is paranoid and scared all the time. My other son has to take a job opposite my working hours so his brother can have 24-hour care at home.

Here’s the problem. He got locked up for child support today. The DA was a total jerk and was rude to my son and me. He said we had nothing saying my son was disabled and couldn’t work. I explained the part about disability and how it takes a year. He didn’t care. I explained his medications. He didn’t care. My son is not qualified to do work except on machinery that he has been trained on. The psychiatric medications he is on prohibit him from operating heavy machinery. The ACT team is trying to help him find gainful employment. It’s a little difficult knowing what jobs someone who hallucinates and is disorganized can perform and remain not only safe themselves, but also keeping co-workers safe. They took him out of court in handcuffs.

What has this country come to? Are we really locking people up who are truly disabled and can’t work because of child support? My son has a true mental disability. He is never considered normal at this point. My house is flagged by the police to send a special officer trained in mental health to respond should a call come from my address. He is not a criminal and needs medical treatment that jail is not going to provide. He is scared in jail and paranoid. He makes funny gestures and talks to people who aren’t there and it makes him a target for the other inmates. Why should my son be put at risk for something he cannot help?

Something needs to be done immediately. My son needs to be let out of jail. I will go to the media with this and everyone I can think of. I won’t stop until everyone knows how our great state of Georgia is treating people with disabilities.