The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

8-year-old transported with prisoners to mental health hospital

This story is very upsetting.  I believe that this mother has a valid complaint.  Even if her son was dangerous to himself and others, he still has the right to be protected from predations and damage and should never have been put with adolescents and criminals for transport.  Granted, there probably was separation of some type, but what did that little boy hear or see during his transport that will mar his development?  This is not acceptable to me and should not be acceptable to anyone.

Please read this article at the source and leave them a comment.  Let me know what you think about it , too, as I always appreciate your comments.


Mom: ‘I want an explanation’

RACINE – Sara Hellesen was worried about her 8-year-old son, Izayah, having to go to a state mental health facility last Tuesday near Oshkosh without her.

Her concern continued the next day when she learned that her son had been transported by Wisconsin Lock & Load with several shackled adults and juveniles.

“I don’t think any child should be in the position of riding with criminals … A child is a child,” said Hellesen, 26, of Racine, who is currently unemployed. “Obviously, I want an explanation.”

Her son has been diagnosed with multiple mental disabilities, including Tourette syndrome, OCD, ADHD, Asperger syndrome and mild retardation, Hellesen said.

He was being treated at Wheaton Franciscan’s Wisconsin Avenue campus in Racine, but he needed more intensive care and needed to go to a state mental health institute, Hellesen said.

A court document signed by Wheaton Franciscan personnel said he has been threatening and physically aggressive and “he may not be able to be managed in this short term … setting.”

A judge ordered a six-month commitment for Izayah and then Lock & Load was called, but at the time Hellesen had no idea that meant he would be riding in a confined area alongside adult criminals, she said. Izayah has never been in trouble with the law, his mother said.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department, which contracts with Lock & Load to transport mental health patients and prisoners, has since said the child should not have been transported with adults. It’s against the department’s policy for juveniles to be transported within sight and sound of adult offenders, said Racine County Sheriff Robert Carlson.

While Izayah was transported, to the right of him, two shackled juveniles sat together in viewing and talking distance of him. Behind him and behind a solid barrier, three adults were being transported to correctional facilities in other parts of the state.

Hellesen said her son told her that the people in shackles were telling him to swear and laughed at him. But Doug Thomas, the operations director for Lock & Load, said he talked to the transport agents and they said that was not true. Izayah was in a separate area from the adults and could not see them from where he was sitting, said Thomas, whose company is based out of Green Bay. He was also in a separate compartment from the other juveniles, although they were in sight, he said.

Still Thomas took responsibility for transporting the child with adults, saying he wasn’t familiar with Racine County’s policy.

“It is not going to happen again,” said Thomas, whose company contracts with 32 counties, including Racine County. The company has been contracted with Racine County since January and Carlson projects it will save the county $500,000 this year.

But Hellesen said she is concerned that her son rode with any criminals, adults or juveniles.

“Anyone who is mentally ill should not be transported with prisoners,” Hellesen said. “They are not there for doing something wrong. They are ill.”

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department has no policy against having mental health patients transported with prisoners, whether they are juveniles with juveniles or adults with adults, Carlson said.

“We would certainly try not to do that, but circumstances may end up with that happening,” he said about having juvenile prisoners ride with people going to state hospitals. “We all understand there is a world of difference between an 8-year-old and a 16-year-old.”

Izayah could have ridden with his mother to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute if the concern had been brought up in court, said Jon Lehman, corporation counsel for the county. But Hellesen said she had not known that was an option at the time and is upset that the Lock & Load transport took place.

“There is no reason for (people with mental health issues) to feel they are a part of criminal activity,” said Hellesen.

Click here to view the original article and read all the comments and other stories about this incident.

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June 30, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. 8-year-old transported with prisoners to mental health hospital…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by Mental Disorders 101 | June 30, 2010 | Reply

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