A mentally ill man died last fall after being left alone for seven days in his Rikers Island cell.
According to the Associated Press, Bradley Ballard was discovered "naked and unresponsive" in his cell on Sep. 4, covered in feces and with a rubber band around his infected genitals. The 39-year-old, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and diabetes, had returned to his native Texas after spending six years behind bars in New York for attacking two people. However, he found himself in Rikers after he violated his parole by punching and exposing himself to a bus driver, as well as declining to inform his parole officer that he left the city.
Ballard was placed in a mental observation unit where Board of Correction executive director Cathy Potler said he was not given his medication for seven days. This resulted in erratic behavior:
The next day, Potler wrote, Ballard intentionally flooded his combination sink-toilet, after which a mental health provider spoke with him for 15 seconds through the cell door. The next day, a plumber turned off the water to his cell.
During the course of that seven-day period, guards only visited him once, despite a mandate requiring them to do so several times daily. When his body was finally discovered, he lacked the energy to move and was eventually pronounced dead on Sep. 11.
The Associated Press says that a city investigation revealed that employees had missed "multiple" chances to treat Ballard. It's yet another example of how inmates are ignored by a system ill-prepared to handle them. As Yale psychiatrist Brandy Lee told explained to the Associated Press, jails have basically become mental hospitals, something they are not fit to serve as.
"The problem is the correction setting is not fit to deliver the proper care, and in fact many of the settings exacerbate their symptoms," Ballard told the AP.
Ballard's death came five months before that of Jerome Murdough, another mentally ill Rikers inmate who essentially "baked to death" inside of his cell in February after being neglected.
[via Associated Press and Daily Intelligencer]
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