Here is an article that shows that there are other ways to help/deal with a mentally ill person. In this instance, she was in a manic episode and spent money she did not have. Did she mean to defraud? I don’t believe so. Should she be held accountable for here actions? I think everyone should be accountable for their actions. Does she need to go to jail or prison? Would you think that would help her illness? I think she needs to be in court ordered treatment and be getting help while making amends for her actions. This program is a way to meet these needs while keeping her out of the prison system that is already overburdened and underfunded.
This article is from WLFI.com in Lafayette, Indiana. Please read the entire article and then leave me a comment about your thoughts on this topic.
Cracks In The System
Updated: Friday, 18 Mar 2011, 8:37 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 18 Mar 2011, 6:12 PM EDT
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Kerrie Riley of Lafayette was diagnosed at age 16 with bipolar disorder. She has struggled with the illness ever since. She said it got out of control in 2008. She believes it was the main cause of her criminal activity.
“It was a big factor,” she explained.
She wrote almost $250,000 worth of bad checks during a manic episode. She said despite seeking help, doctors were unable to get her medication dosage correct.
“I kept going back to him for follow ups and kept informing him something was not right. He kept saying: ‘Let’s increase the dose. I think we’ll get it right,’” she said.
Riley later turned herself in to police after they issued a warrant for her arrest. She was charged with fraud on a financial institution. She was sentenced to a year and a half home detention, two years on probation and has to pay almost $10,000 in restitution. She said she had no intent to harm anyone through her actions, but she was unable to control them at the time.
“Very remorseful over the people I did hurt,” said Riley.
Riley’s case is one of many. She said she realizes she was fortunate not to have to serve time in jail. She asks the justice system continue to have compassion for those like her who fight a mental illness everyday.
“It seems like a never ending battle,” she explained.
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said the county developed the forensic diversion program in response to the problem. It helps mainly people with mental health and substance abuse problems. Riley did not qualify for the program. Someone convicted of a non-violent crime must show they have a documented mental health condition. The program then allows them to get help for three years from a variety of resources including mental health, substance abuse, education and employment facilities instead of going to jail.
“To try to provide that individual with the opportunity to get treatment for their illness and also have close supervision to try to get them on the right path,” said Harrington.
The program can serve up to 15 people at a time. There are currently five people involved in it. Harrington said his goal is to bring more awareness to the program so more people can be helped.
Tippecanoe County Judge Gregory Donat is also exploring creating a mental health court to help people with mental illness but no substance abuse problems in the county.
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