Shamus Goes Back to Jail

We’re not in the habit of responding to each other’s blog posts, but Mike’s last post warrants a response on two levels.


First, Mike didn’t so mildly exercise his 1stAmendment right as he states. (Though I must admit I’m glad his mention of it indicates he knows what at least one of its four parts garuantees – the right to free speech, because he definitely doesn’t know much about the 4th Amendment).  He actually stated to the officer, BEFORE producing his NOPD I.D., “Officer, this guy needs to go to jail!”  He proclaimed it with all the zeal of a televangelist with an 800-number on Easter Sunday morning.  Fortunately, after years working with hundreds of clients with mental illness, such outbursts don’t rattle me nearly as much as they would have a decade ago.


Second, it is now 5:15 pm.  The client I was supposed to pick up today is still in Jail.  She was to be released, per judge’s orders, at 9:00am into the care of myself and one other co-worker due to her medical frailty.  We sat at jail from 9:05am (at which time they had not even begun processing her release) until a half an hour ago due to the need to retrieve a child from school. Child retrieved, I’m going back to the jail shortly to see if she has yet been released. 


I bring this up, not to complain about the incredible sluggishness of the Criminal Sherriff’s Department in processing inmate release, not to complain about their failure to follow the judge’s ordered time of release, nor to complain about the fact that two of us were absorbed all day and thus taken away from other clients.  I bring it up just to highlight Mike’s point that the barriers our clients face are always more complex than expected, often due to no fault of the client.  The plan today was to find the client and move her immediately into housing, ending her homelessness and making it easier for her to obtain the routine health care she so desperately needs, all based on a judge’s orders.  Instead, we’re back to trying to make sure we time the client’s release – a time the jail personnel refuse to estimate – with the next time we can get an outreach worker back there.  If we don’t time it right and miss the client again, who knows how much longer her homelessness will continue when, per judge’s orders, it should have ended today.



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1 Comment

  • Susan Cantrell

    October 14, 2009 8:45 am

    I cannot believe the complete and utter lack of efficency of our systems of care, as demonstrated by this post. No wonder N.O. is still the murder capital…killers can walk out of the courthouse, while a a woman with demonstrated ‘medical frailty’ cannot even get released on judge’s orders. Hats off to anyone who is trying to make a difference in this three-ring circus

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