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  #1  
Old 08-23-2017, 10:33 AM
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Default Transfer from specialized psych facility to general population - worried

My husband has served 3 years of an 18 year sentence in a maximum security, specialized psych facility.

The sentence was the result of a plea bargain with a strong recommendation for placement in an appropriate venue where his significant mental health issues would be addressed, rather than pursue a NGRI defense. A definite sentence with appropriate treatment seemed the best option according to our defense team. Agreed.

After 3 years in treatment (taking meds, seeing therapists regularly), his mental state has improved so they are transferring him to the general population.

I'm worried about this. It's not what we bargained for and I'm afraid the gains in the past couple of years will be negated.

Am I right to be concerned?
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Old 08-23-2017, 10:48 AM
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You're right to be aware of the possibilities for failure, but he's got to test his stability and willingness to continue the meds and interact. If he fails, he'll go back to the old facility for a tune-up and possibly adjustment of his meds, but unless you expect to keep him in a locked facility forever, he needs to know how to find his balance, lose it, regain it. The real world forces us to do that, so just consider this rehearsal before the big show.
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:47 AM
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Thanks. I totally agree with your take on this and can see the move as a positive sign of improvement.

My jitters come from previous stints, pre-trial, in the general population that were...well...not successful. Ultimately, we do want him interacting well. I mean, that's what we fought so hard for - eventual release where he will need to navigate on his own.
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Old 08-23-2017, 02:31 PM
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Yep, this is a good thing. He has improved to such a degree that they are trying him out inGP. Chances are he's not going there with no supports - he'll still have the ability to spend some time in the psych unit for groups, and he'll still be doing his counseling, and they will still be monitoring his med compliance. The idea is that they support him in his transition and allow him to test the tools he's learned and his resiliency and recovery.

If he can't cut it, they will bring him back, but they want to test him and he's apparently up for the idea or he would have decompensated after the first mention of aiming at gp as a goal or any time between now and him getting into gp.

This will also look good to parole when the time comes. The longer he's compliant with a stepped down treatment plan, operating proficiently in GP, the more likely the parole board will look positively on releasing him on parole, with parole being just the next most logical step in recovering from his significant mental illness. If he spends his entire time in a psych unit where he never tests himself, his ability to handle stress, and his ability to be frustrated, they are not going to be as positive about sending him out onto the street with the idea that he will be parole compliant and society will be safe.

This is an important, positive step. I hope he's successful in his transition.
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:51 AM
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His therapist is encouraging him to get involved in the education programs as an instructor. He does need a successful transition to GP for that.

He has advanced degrees in engineering and finance. He is also an accomplished musician. This would not only be therapeutic for him, but also looks good to the parole board. He won't be eligible for parole for quite some time, but getting him to interact in a positive way is good regardless.
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:01 AM
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Keep in mind too, that quite a few prison systems have mental health units even at medium-custody. Here in Idaho, on the main prison Yard, it was called the BHU (Behavioral Health Unit). How it worked is everyone still mixed and mingled with general population for all shared activities like school and programming and recreation, but it had its own separate building where only those who were taking medications were housed. And they brought the medications (pill carts) to us, so we didn't have to walk clear across the compound and wait in long lines at Medical like everyone else. We also ate chow by ourselves, separate from the rest of general population.

In my experience, BHU was pretty laid back, few fights (since most everyone was doped up and medicated the whole time) which made for very easy time. Most prisoners there slept half the day away, so the day rooms weren't too busy or noisy either. Think of it like the mellowness of protective custody while still retaining the freedom of general population.

So try not to worry. I'm sure your LO will be fine.
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:27 AM
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Yeah, I'm just concerned from his initial, brief, stints at county jail where he was basically a pariah and considered a "toxic" presence. Creepy, paranoid, delusional, ghoulish and bizarre. Nobody, COs and inmates alike, wanted anything to do with him.

The psych facility was much, much better. He found acceptance and actually made some friends. Much happier there and made some real progress.
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:53 AM
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Prison and county are two very different worlds. Especially in smaller counties where jail populations are not differentiated, where psych conditions go unrecognized and where guards have very little if any training in psych inmates.

A prison with a mental health unit is the opposite of this. Further, your LO is not the first to transition to GP, so there is already a base of inmates who are just like him and who have walked where he's walking now. All of the guards have some to extensive training in mental illness. All have had inmates transition from psych to GP before. Frequently.

Remember, too, that your LO probably already has friends in GP, friends who have already transitioned out.

And, he'll be pulled back to the psych unit if he's not making it.

Also, yes, it will be. Awhile before he's up for parole. But looking at what he's doing now through the lens of parole helps to build his parole resume. Right now, he has the ability to do things at his own pace and build a powerful resume for parole rather than try to cram parole positive things into his file in the last year. Right now, he's doing what he needs to to get out of prison as quickly as possible and as healthy as possible. This is really good.

It is also really good that he has some specific goals within GP - music, education - that can also focus his attention and help with his transition. Encourage him to get into routines, socialize with friends who've transitioned before him, and to take it slow and easy.

And remember to breathe. This isn't County. This is prison. Prison with a significant psych population in addition to the psych unit. They want him to succeed and will help. Your job is to help as well. LOs are the biggest moral support and cheerleaders that an inmate can have. They are the ones who notice symptoms first, but also know real change and positive growth first. They are the emotional anchor for their LO. He has a much higher chance of success, in prison, on parole, and to not recidivate because of involved LO like you.

So, just breathe, and be that psychological support system he needs right now.
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:07 PM
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My husband has been transferred to a BHU very similar to what Nickle Timer describes. So far, so good. Not at all like county jail.
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Old 09-08-2017, 08:21 PM
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You're right to be aware of the possibilities but at some point you have to accept the facts with mental health that its all up to him now. You both need to realise this eventually. Its a part of anyone's life who has to deal with mental health. He has to learn to manage to take his drugs, and to ask for additional support in the community when he needs it. He can't spend the rest of his life living in a hospital and I'm not sure you'd want that either.

If he fails in general population, he'll go back to where he was before, they'll adjust his medications and the whole process will start again in due course until they find a suitable combination of medications. The only issue I have with prisons, especially in the United States is that they love to use old fashioned drugs from the 1950s because they're cheap/generic. It's not the best place to actually get compassionate care in terms of doctors and medication, but you have to learn to make do with it for now until he's out. Then he can see a psychiatrist and have a medication review.

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Old 11-05-2017, 09:08 AM
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He's doing well in the BHU. Focusing on art and acting as "elder statesman".

I received, after a delay, some watercolor paintings. They're actually quite good. Very creative use of the materials at hand. Flattened Pop tart boxes as a canvas, Kool aid for colors. Interesting. He painted a scene, based on my description of my new apartment over the phone, that was pretty accurate.

Less disturbing subjects, getting along. I'm encouraged.
Shame that the DOC has become the best option for long term treatment, but it seems to be working.
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Old 11-05-2017, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babyx View Post
He's doing well in the BHU. Focusing on art and acting as "elder statesman".

I received, after a delay, some watercolor paintings. They're actually quite good. Very creative use of the materials at hand. Flattened Pop tart boxes as a canvas, Kool aid for colors. Interesting. He painted a scene, based on my description of my new apartment over the phone, that was pretty accurate.

Less disturbing subjects, getting along. I'm encouraged.
Shame that the DOC has become the best option for long term treatment, but it seems to be working.
His new cellie recently transfered to GP after brain surgery. They share a lot of common experiences, and my husband is actually quite helpful. Good news.

Again, too bad this type of support is only available in the doc. I just think something's wrong with that.
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Old 04-27-2018, 04:08 PM
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My husband is doing really well. He's on reduced meds and stable. In fact, he's doing so well they moved him into a more privileged, non psych dorm for long term inmates. He still gets meds, but can use proper silverware and get caffeinated coffee. He's focusing on artwork and mathematics to keep his mind active.

A big step up.

His bunkmate has served 41 years of a LWOP sentence. Has a lot of insights to share.
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Old 04-27-2018, 04:18 PM
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Congratulations to you both!
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Old 04-27-2018, 04:41 PM
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Thanks for the update. Great news that he is doing so well in general population.
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Old 04-28-2018, 12:13 PM
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It's kinda sad, but I'm really encouraged.

We both think his time inside probably saved his life. Not that it's been easy or pretty. Facing serious medical and psychiatric issues inside prion sucks more than words can describe. But I think we've come through, miraculously. It's almost a blessing that the issues were SO bad they had to be dealt with, and were dealt with.
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Old 01-30-2020, 04:57 PM
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An Update. My husband is doing really, really well.

He's heavily involved in the educational programs at his facility, as an instructor. He's developed a curriculum & course of study for post-GED students in calculus & computer science. He's been given a lot of latitude there. From what I've seen, his original course materials are, actually, very very good. Very Solid foundational concepts, delivered in a snarky, funny way. He's very engaged & enjoying it. Damn! How far we've come!
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Old 01-30-2020, 05:35 PM
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Great news, thanks for the update on his progress.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:32 PM
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Babyx, that is wonderful! I'm glad to hear he is doing so well inside.
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