After talking with the family of my Special Forces inmate, Ron, I learned that when he came home from the Army, he no longer wanted any physical contact with people, not even a hug. When a fellow inmate accidentally came into physical contact with him, Ron beat the mess out of him. At the time, Ron was refusing all of his psyche meds.
Another time, a fellow inmate was passing by and said something smartly to the six-foot-four, 310lb Ron. He was also attacked. When the jail finally allowed me to give him candy with his medication, he refused several times. It took a while, but eventually he came to trust me enough that he would take the candy and the pills I offered him.
His parents couldn’t afford to give him money every week for commissary, so an officer and I would secretly put money into Ron’s account to allow him to order snacks. Otherwise, he would become so irate and belligerent we would have to keep him locked down for a couple of days.
For Ron, it was a treat to come to medical to see me, to take his medicines and to get his candy. He was so formidable even the officers assigned to guard him were intimidated. When Ron came to medical to see the doctor, the doctor would instruct me to have the candy ready and present it first.
A new officer, who didn’t understand the situation, refused to let Ron come to medical one morning and you could hear my patient as he pounded on the cellblock door to get to me. Hearing the commotion, the corporal came running and demanded the officer let Ron out immediately.
“But he’s too dangerous,” the newbie whined.
“No. he’s dangerous to you, but he won’t attack the nurse,” the corporal explained. “He always comes to the nurse.”
When Ron needed a new pair of shoes, he stood by the door waiting for me. The officers said he refused to budge until I came into work and they were afraid to touch him in order to make him go back to his cell (Ron could see me coming and going to my office).
“We asked him to go back three times,” one officer admitted.
“After the third time, Ron said he would bust us in our heads if we asked him again so we just left him standing there waiting for you.”
One morning, Ron came down for his medicines and took a seat on the doctor’s stool. As he sat there quietly, I sensed he wanted to talk to me. Finally, he looked up at the officer and told him to leave.
“I can’t leave,” the officer denied. “I have to be with you when you’re with the nurse.”
“You have more to fear from me than she does,” Ron replied honestly.
As Ron, in a threatening manner, stood up from the stool, the officer backed out of the office, closed the door leaving it ajar, and announced he’d be right there on the other side of the door.
“Am I in a jail?” Ron asked as an expression of puzzlement filled his face.
I was so stunned. “Yes,” I answered after a few stalled seconds. I informed him what jail and county he was in.
“Why am I here? I didn’t do anything wrong. I was at another hospital that you sent me to and they said I was going to come back to where you were.”
“Do you remember hurting your mom and dad?” I asked as the realization dawned on me that this man was in far
worse mental shape than I had originally thought.
Ron denied the memory and was adamant that he would not hurt his parents knowingly. He also confided to me that sometimes he has terrible dreams about his missions, but would not discuss those dreams with me. We talked for a few more minutes and then he took his candy and went back to his jail cell.
By this time, Ron had been in my custody for right at two years and without any medical help for his mental well being other than the medications I administered, he maintained his demeanor which bordered on irritation most of the time.
The administration denied Ron had even been set a trial date for his crime. They explained that because of his mental status he could not be tried for his crime. They insisted I work on this problem (two years later).
I called a colleague of mine who worked in Columbia with the primary psychiatric hospital for those that are terminally mentally impaired. I told Martha what had happened and about Ron and my conversation. She called me back a week later.
“I don’t understand why he’s there,” she said to me over the phone. “He should have never left this hospital and to be honest, I thought he was still here. At least, he was here when I was moved into my new department two years ago. I’m going to fax these papers to you, call me back after you read them.”
They were notes from the head psychiatrist who evaluated Ron. In the papers, he stated that Ron was criminally insane, and without medication, could become a potential risk of endangerment in a social setting. Judge Peters had ruled that Ron needed permanent institutionalizing (Ron’s day in court). I went through Ron’s files again (the file that was sent back with him) and nothing, not one shred of paper about this information was sent back to me.
I called my colleague back and she confided this doctor does things like this all the time when he doesn’t want to take charge of a patient. “He just dumped him back off on you,” she exclaimed. “One of these days, he’s going to get into a lot of trouble doing these things!”
She also gave me the number of the judge who deemed Ron criminally insane and required permanent institutionalizing. Instead, I attempted to call the head psychiatrist who denied my many phone calls. When he refused to call me back for over a week, I called the judge who in turn, called the doctor.
I noticed the doctor suddenly found time to call me back. He had decided that Ron needed to be returned to the hospital immediately as in, the same day (a month following our phone call, I learned that the doctor had been relieved of his duties and a new one was taking care of Ron).
When I hung up and had my patient brought to me and I explained the situation. He stated he understood and went back to his cell without incident. When his transportation arrived, Ron asked the officers to call me upfront.
He was sitting on the bench when I came up. He looked up at me as I approached and asked, “Am I going to see you anymore?”
“No, Ron. You’re going to the hospital again. I called your parents and told them where you were going to be,” I explained.
As Ron stood up so he could be shackled, he reached over to hug me. I noticed everyone ducked…everyone but me.