Thursday, January 03, 2008

From street to jail and back again

In Maryland, the cycle from street to jail – but not treatment - continues for Michael Alan Poole.

In the past two years, Poole, a man with bipolar disorder, has been arrested for stomping two cats to death, shoplifting, stalking, and trying to steal a donation jar from a store. On Saturday, Poole’s his family filed trespassing charges. Poole had broken into his mother’s house and had, in the past, attempted to set the house on fire.

Prosecution and defense attorneys say Poole is an example of the failure of Maryland’s mental health system.

…. a shortage of beds and restrictions on admittance prevent some people from getting the help they need.

"His problems are not uncommon for our office," said Assistant Public Defender Karl H. Gordon, who represented Poole in the 2006 animal cruelty case. He estimates that 20 percent of all of the office's clients have mental health problems of some sort.

"The problem that always comes up is that people refuse to take their medication," State's Attorney Frank R.Weathersbee said.

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