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  #1  
Old 01-09-2017, 03:04 PM
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Default Psych Meds and TDCJ

Long vent about psych meds in TDCJ. Sorry in advance

I've shared before that my boyfriend struggles with some mental health issues - most prominently PTSD and anxiety. He made me so proud in jail by working closely with his psychiatrist and the trying meds, working through the side effects, and really staying committed to getting under control.

Well, according to classification he was transferred to the craphole that is Beto due to his psych issues. Too bad the psych care there is terrible. It started with the psychiatrist "evaluating" him over the computer screen for 2 minutes and telling him he was fine. We persisted with getting him some treatment and when they finally responded he tried to work with them but they'd prescribe him meds and then never follow up with him. The first drug gave him awful tremors but they wouldn't answer his requests to come back in, so he just stopped taking the and kept hounding them to see him. Eventually they lowered the dose (without seeing him of course) instead of prescribing something to help with side effects or switching all together and round and round we went until he finally asked to be taken off the psych case load, period.

Anyway, he's been experiment with natural ways to deal with his issues and doing well enough.

His cell flooded a while back and he was moved to the rougher side of the unit temporarily. Well, temporarily turned into permanent and he's desperate to get out of there. The drugs, the gangs, the race riots, the stabbings...it's more than he's experienced anywhere in his many travels through TDC, and he's constantly having to tread through a minefield to survive as an outlier who refuses to align with anyone.

So a high ranking staff member decides to help him get onto a trusty camp. He got really excited...and then he was told he can't go because he's been on psych meds within the past year. That was a big blow to him.

Not too long after, he gets invited to apply for the Prison Enteprenuer Program. Now, that was REALLY exciting! He was going on and on about how low the recedivism rate is, how awesome it would be to be surrounded by like-minded people, how much closer he'd be to home. And then we find out he was denied. Because he was on psych meds.

THEN he has a chat with a lady from the parole office about what he can do to increase his likelyhood of making parole and she tells him that he has a better shot this time because...he was on psych meds last time. So did the pride he exhibited in past reviews in sticking with his psychiatric care actually hurt his odds of coming home?

Now, my boyfriend has been rolling with the punches like a champ. He's not one to do much complaining because he knows it's no ones fault but his own that he's in prison to begin with, and his hard work at turning his life around isn't going to suddenly erase the consequences of decades of bad decisions.

But I'm annoyed as hell. No, rationally I don't think TDC's intentions are to punish those with mental illness, but at the end of the day, that's how it feels. And as a nurse who's done a lot of psych care of the years, im appalled by what I've seen.

Do we want people to get the help they need so they stay out of prison or not? Isn't that a huge part of the "rehabilitation" that is supposed to be part of prison?

I just don't get it.
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:13 PM
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From your description, I don't get it either. Sounds like a Catch 22....if you take care of your mental health, you can't do the programs that will help you take care of yourself on the outside? Really?
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Old 01-10-2017, 03:23 AM
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It is a catch 22. I recently learned that there is at least 1 fi program that disqualifies inmates who have been u Det psych care. Insane!
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:02 AM
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unfortunately, there are some drug-treatment programs that have current psychotropics as a disqualifier. Ironically, it was the lack of meds that led some to have self-medicated with illegal substances.

There are certainly potential ADA issues to be raised in such a scenario, but litigating them is both costly AND time-consuming. The Board is aware of this and is why when certain votes have to be modified, they have to be changed to an FI instead of a NR. However, proving that someone was originally set off instead of getting an FI-5 or FI-6R solely due to medications is an extremely difficult bar to demonstrate...and one HAS to discount comments from the IPO since they rarely have a clue what goes into the decisions.

The inability to get into some programs, such as PEP or even trusty camp placements, can be justified by the agency because of the limitations that exist while ON the medications. In a trusty camp environment, the meds often preclude prolonged exposure to the sun, and MOST outside trusty positions are going to be long hours outside IN the sun. PEP can result in job placements in settings that are contraindicated by the warnings for the medications...
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:48 AM
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My point exactly!! Many were self medicating rather than getting the psych care they needed, then landed in TDC and are now disqualified from certain FI programs.
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:13 AM
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From your description, I don't get it either. Sounds like a Catch 22....if you take care of your mental health, you can't do the programs that will help you take care of yourself on the outside? Really?
Basically. It's a no-win situation. And it's extremely hard watching your LO have those opportunities taken away because he's trying to do the right thing.

The day after he started meds, they came to remove him from his Construction Science class because the meds meant he was put on Heat Restiction - although this class was indoors and there isn't any a/c ANYWHERE in TDC. The only reason he was able to complete the course was he's stubborn and persistent and convinced the psych department to remove the heat restriction. But had he not been able to do that, it would've been one more opportunity not available to him.
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CenTexLyn View Post
unfortunately, there are some drug-treatment programs that have current psychotropics as a disqualifier. Ironically, it was the lack of meds that led some to have self-medicated with illegal substances.

There are certainly potential ADA issues to be raised in such a scenario, but litigating them is both costly AND time-consuming. The Board is aware of this and is why when certain votes have to be modified, they have to be changed to an FI instead of a NR. However, proving that someone was originally set off instead of getting an FI-5 or FI-6R solely due to medications is an extremely difficult bar to demonstrate...and one HAS to discount comments from the IPO since they rarely have a clue what goes into the decisions.

The inability to get into some programs, such as PEP or even trusty camp placements, can be justified by the agency because of the limitations that exist while ON the medications. In a trusty camp environment, the meds often preclude prolonged exposure to the sun, and MOST outside trusty positions are going to be long hours outside IN the sun. PEP can result in job placements in settings that are contraindicated by the warnings for the medications...
I do remember him mentioning heat restrictions when he was first denied. Aside from removing him from his vocational course, they also tried to move him into a different cell off of 3 row. Really, nothing more than a CYA considering the heat level in the summer is higher than it should be on any row, in class or out, when you're talking about people at high risk for heat stroke. I don't see them all being moved to air conditioned units.

As far as PEP, drug treament programs, and parole goes...and the fact that he has to be off of the meds for a year to go to the trusty camp when the medications were out of his system in days...well, there's no heat stroke defense there. It's pure discrimination and it's sad. It's the exact opposite of rehabilitation, especially because like you said: so many inmates are in prison for self-medicating away their mental health issues.

Successful rehabilitation has to include adequate psychiatric care combined with plenty of access to programs that will help them upon release.
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:45 PM
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So am I reading these posts correctly? If someone is on psych meds, that's a reason to deny parole? My husband was *finally* diagnosed bi-polar in county jail before transferring to TDCJ, and he's been on psych meds since November.

Can the help he's receiving through medication actually hurt his chances of parole??

And what programs does it disqualify him for? He's an alcoholic, and he is hoping for one of the substance abuse programs.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:18 AM
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So am I reading these posts correctly? If someone is on psych meds, that's a reason to deny parole? My husband was *finally* diagnosed bi-polar in county jail before transferring to TDCJ, and he's been on psych meds since November.

Can the help he's receiving through medication actually hurt his chances of parole??

And what programs does it disqualify him for? He's an alcoholic, and he is hoping for one of the substance abuse programs.
No, it is NOT saying that it is a reason to deny release. What HAS been said is that certain medications disqualify a person from being voted into certain programs.

By alcoholic, I am guessing that this is a DWI conviction, which is ordinarily going to be a vote for the FI-6 DWI program if approved for release. I do not believe it has the psychotropic disqualifiers that exist with the FI-5 IPTC program and the FI-6R PRTC program. Neither of those programs are typically used for the DWI offender since the DWI-specific program came into being.
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:55 PM
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It's not a DWI conviction, it's a family violence one, but alcohol was the contributing factor. The DA said it was clear from his record that he has a problem with alcohol and he actually wanted to get him into a program through felony court, but wasn't able to / didn't for whatever reason. I don't know what all programs he might be eligible for, but I'm hoping that the new meds won't be a reason to keep him out

If the parole board can't put him into a program because of medications, though, doesn't that give a stronger case for a no vote?
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:36 PM
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It's not a DWI conviction, it's a family violence one, but alcohol was the contributing factor. The DA said it was clear from his record that he has a problem with alcohol and he actually wanted to get him into a program through felony court, but wasn't able to / didn't for whatever reason. I don't know what all programs he might be eligible for, but I'm hoping that the new meds won't be a reason to keep him out

If the parole board can't put him into a program because of medications, though, doesn't that give a stronger case for a no vote?
Absent a conviction for drug-related conduct, it is hard to get a true treatment program vote like the FI-5 or FI-6R.

The broader issue in a case like this is that one usually has a history of the repetition of A/FV to get to the felony level. Some manner of cognitive programming is in order to address whatever it is that allows him to think it is ok to be physically abusive. Alcohol is NOT an excuse for the conduct although there is no question that it exacerbates the problem...

It is quite possible that the ADA ran into the same problem with trying for a SAFP placement and probation as the Board may run into with the use of the FI-5/FI-6R where there is no actual conviction for drug/alcohol offenses.

In a case like this, one thing I would encourage a family to do is get a bed lined up in an inpatient treatment program that the client would then immediately go into upon release from TDCJ. Having that deposit and receipt for payment in place can be a real persuasive component of presenting the case...
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by CenTexLyn View Post
Absent a conviction for drug-related conduct, it is hard to get a true treatment program vote like the FI-5 or FI-6R.

The broader issue in a case like this is that one usually has a history of the repetition of A/FV to get to the felony level. Some manner of cognitive programming is in order to address whatever it is that allows him to think it is ok to be physically abusive. Alcohol is NOT an excuse for the conduct although there is no question that it exacerbates the problem...

It is quite possible that the ADA ran into the same problem with trying for a SAFP placement and probation as the Board may run into with the use of the FI-5/FI-6R where there is no actual conviction for drug/alcohol offenses.

In a case like this, one thing I would encourage a family to do is get a bed lined up in an inpatient treatment program that the client would then immediately go into upon release from TDCJ. Having that deposit and receipt for payment in place can be a real persuasive component of presenting the case...
Barring a long drawn out explanation as to what actually happened, he didn't deserve the charges he got. He was drunk and stupid, but he didn't hurt anyone. He was the one that got beat up, but the cops hauled him off as he was the drunk one. :\

I was really hoping that he would qualify for some kind of rehab program, but from what you're saying it doesn't sound like he will. *sigh* He's been arrested several times for PI, will that actually help in any way?

Thank you for the suggestion about getting the rehab bed lined up. That's a great idea.
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Old 02-18-2017, 07:19 AM
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Barring a long drawn out explanation as to what actually happened, he didn't deserve the charges he got. He was drunk and stupid, but he didn't hurt anyone. He was the one that got beat up, but the cops hauled him off as he was the drunk one. :\

I was really hoping that he would qualify for some kind of rehab program, but from what you're saying it doesn't sound like he will. *sigh* He's been arrested several times for PI, will that actually help in any way?

Thank you for the suggestion about getting the rehab bed lined up. That's a great idea.
I hope that neither he nor anyone writing on his behalf advances a claim that he 'didn't deserve what he got,' as that guarantees he will be in for a while. Losing the fight does not mean one did not commit an offense. And, unless the sentence came after a trial by judge or jury, he has judicially confessed to the offense elements.

With what you describe, he will likely not be considered for the substance abuse programs...
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Old Yesterday, 01:00 PM
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I hope that neither he nor anyone writing on his behalf advances a claim that he 'didn't deserve what he got,' as that guarantees he will be in for a while.
Of course not. Writing on a forum is hardly the same as writing a letter to the board.

Thank you for your input.
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