No Rights for Parents with Brain-Damaged Son in Prison
This is an unfortunate story that needs to be shared about a family’s journey through the trials and tribulations of having a son in prison. The difference here is that there are no rights for parents with brain-damaged son in prison. He wasn’t always brain-damaged and Concerned Mom tells their story and how they are still working on obtaining their care and treatment that their son still needs.
We couldn’t believe that we would have a brain-damaged son in prison.
Concerned Mom has sent this anonymously in case there are any future court proceedings. She is contacting local legislatures and organizations, however wanted this story published in case anyone else has been through this and has any other suggestions or information to help her family. Here’s her story:
In 2016 our son was shot! He was 36-years-old and is a father of four. On that fateful day, our family’s lives were changed forever! The circumstances of the shooting are mysterious; we do not know why he was shot, we do not know who shot him or their motive. What we do know, is that during the days prior to the incident our son felt that his life was in danger.
What we learned is that he was dropped off at the hospital with his heart dry-pumping and no oxygen getting to his brain. It took 14 units of blood to stabilize him before being transported to another hospital where they performed an emergency right-leg amputation. He had no identification on him and was identified as a John Doe at this time; it took several weeks for us to locate and identify him.
After another cardiac arrest, (total of 3) it was discovered that he had Anoxic Brain Damage (lack of oxygen to the brain) and remained on ‘life-support’ for two months. He was truly in the fight of his life with a will to live that was remarkable.
Finally, as he was weaned off of life support, the various therapies began. At first, he didn’t know his family – his memory was gone! He also had to relearn the simplest of tasks like eating and using the bathroom. Every day he fought his way back to us.
As he continued to make progress the next step was to admit him to NeuroRestorative, a facility for brain injured patients. With the therapies NeuroRestorative provided, he learned how to make associations and perform some basic life-skills; things like making his bed and showering to help prepare him for coming home.
Five months later he was cleared to go home in the care of his loving parents. The work of brain rehabilitation continued with the enrollment into a community enrichment program and physical therapy to prepare him for an artificial leg; we were all making slow but steady progress.
Approximately six months after the shooting in March of 2017 we received a notice to appear in court. To be transparent, our son had been in trouble before and had served his time. However, these charges were associated to a reported crime near where they believe he had been shot and the court wanted to determine if he was competent to face them. And so, our long ordeal began! For the next fifteen months we attended Competency Court on a regular basis, sometimes once or twice a month for a total of 14 appearances!
We saw four medical professionals that were ordered by the court, two psychiatrists and two psychologists who ALL determined that our son was incompetent and unlikely to regain competency due to the severity of the brain damage. In addition, the State mandated that our son attend a forensic hospital, as an outpatient to return him to competency. He attended weekly sessions for over six months.
By mid-year 2018, the hospital had been unable to accomplish competency and requested, through an email to the Judge, that our son be remanded into custody as an in-patient at the hospital so that they could make further evaluations. We resisted this request knowing that it was not in the best interest of our son, citing the four court-ordered doctors findings along with the additional findings of another expert doctor we hired. We had consulted privately with this doctor because of his added credentials in Forensic Neuropsychology and because he is highly regarded as an expert in this field. He stated in his report, that there was no way our son could become competent to stand trial and that having him as an in-patient at the hospital would be a waste of time.
To our dismay, in June of 2018 at a typical court appearance, our son was ‘remanded’ into the custody of the Sheriff and taken to the jail and is still being detained there awaiting a bed at the forensic hospital for in-patient evaluation of his competency. We were horrified and shocked that a mentally and physically disabled person would be treated this way. He is clearly incompetent and mentally impaired on so many levels, he is like a 9-year old boy. We couldn’t believe that we would have a brain-damaged son in prison.
Despite our best efforts to protect him from what we believe, as the expert doctor that we hired stated that it “is a waste of time”, the unthinkable happened! (Ironically, as a family we had come to terms with our son going to the forensic hospital for in-patient treatment as being inevitable.) What we hadn’t anticipated is the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted with this decision, including but not limited to:
- When he was ‘remanded’ his prosthetic leg and crutches were taken from him.
- He was placed in a jailhouse wheelchair.
- He remained in the wheelchair for over 48 hours without a blanket or a pillow.
- He didn’t get moved to the medical ward with a bed for over 2 days.
- He had to shower standing on one leg, there was no shower chair or safety bars.
- He was denied his medication (13 Prescriptions in all):
- Seizure medication
- Phantom pain medication
- Anxiety medication
- Mood stabilizer and more
- He had physical symptoms of illness that were ignored such as vomiting and a rash.
- Unable to communicate clearly our son lacks the capacity to tell his custodians what he needs and has been left to his own limited devices.
We are our son’s legal guardian, and as such, I believe we have been denied reasonable access to assist with his critical and complex medical and emotional needs. All of the hard work on this long road to recovery has been threatened; he had maintained a rigorous schedule of physical therapy, neurofeedback (brain training), doctor appointments etc., all of which have abruptly stopped. My fear is that our son has ‘fallen through a crack’ and he may not survive this ordeal.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to reach out to Concerned Mom.