Saturday, May 10, 2008

Officers Leave Man in Shackles in Lobby of Mental Hospital

Officers Leave Man in Shackles in Lobby of Mental Hospital

A Sarpy County judge created a potentially dangerous situation by ordering two deputies to leave a 19-year-old jail inmate with mental problems at a psychiatric hospital, even though the hospital did not have room, a state official said Friday.

The deputies left the man in shackles in the hospital lobby.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov defended Judge Robert Wester's decision, saying that the Lincoln Regional Center should have had the bed space needed to accommodate the man.

"I think what's out of line is that the system doesn't have adequate facilities for mental care," Polikov said. "I can't speak for the judge, but I'm not sure what his alternatives were."

Wester determined Thursday that the man was incompetent to stand trial and told Sarpy County Deputies John Sorensen and Ken Miller to transport him to the Lincoln Regional Center. The man was in court on an assault charge and a couple of traffic offenses.

People are routinely held at the regional center until they are considered mentally prepared for trial.

When deputies arrived at the regional center, officials there told them there was no room for the man. The deputies notified the judge, who told them to leave the man there or go to jail themselves for being in contempt of his orders, said Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis.

"The judge said, 'Look, I gave you an order, and you've got to walk away,'" Davis said. "He said, 'I'm giving you an order, and if you defy that order, you'll be in contempt.'"

This is incomprehensible. But given the county, no surprise. This county contains Offutt Air Force Base, the home of Stratcom. It's a well-populated county, yet the entire criminal justice system of Sarpy County Nebraska is so harsh, ignorant, and backwards, it's mind boggling.


Bradley said...

I'll be moving back to Sarpy county next year and seeing this story doesn't surprise me. Unfortunately it gives me chills.

Jon said...

Bradley - Welcome back to the area. When you get here if I can do anything for you, please don't hesitate to let me know.