Man With IDD Stuck In Jail For 5 Months After Group Home Called Police

Jail cells at the Tarrant County Correctional Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. (Chris Torres/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

FORT WORTH, Texas – The mother of a 21-year-old inmate at the Tarrant County Jail says her son has the mental capacity of a toddler and is pleading with prosecutors to drop the charges so he can get the care he needs.

Kai’Yere Campbell has an intellectual and developmental disability and cannot understand why he has been incarcerated for five months, according to his mother, Shantel Taylor. He was deemed incompetent to stand trial and ordered into a mental health facility, but authorities say there is no room to send him.

“He is a child who cannot understand the adult world,” Taylor said in a statement to the Star-Telegram. “But he is now being punished by the court system for behaviors that are a symptom of his developmental disability.”

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He ended his statement with a plea to District Attorney Phil Sorrells.

“As a parent, I humbly plead with the district attorney, as well as those involved in Kai’Yere’s ‘inner circle of care,’ to do whatever is necessary to provide him with access (to a state-supported residential facility) to appropriate level. of attention,” he said. “My son doesn’t need punishment, he needs care.”

Campbell was arrested in December on charges of assault on an elderly person. Since then he has lost more than 100 pounds and doesn’t understand that he needs to put on clothes, Taylor said.

Since then, his case has attracted the attention of advocacy groups that are joining calls for Campbell’s release.

Speakers during public comment at a Tarrant County Commissioners Court session this month called on county leaders to act, saying the walls of Campbell’s cell are covered in feces and food scraps.

The person Campbell allegedly assaulted, a 72-year-old nurse at a group home where she lived in December, never wanted charges filed against her, according to Pamela Young, an organizer with the advocacy group United Fort Worth.

“When they called the police, they called them to take Kai’Yere to JPS Mental Health,” he said, referring to the taxpayer-funded hospital in Fort Worth.

Young added her voice to the call for Sorrells to drop charges against Campbell, who she says has an 8-year development.

“The DA treats you like a capable adult who has control over your body; Kai’Yere can’t even take care of himself without help 24/7. The district attorney is criminalizing it and this needs to stop,” he said.

These types of arrests are common in group home situations in Texas, according to Krishnaveni Gundu, co-founder and executive director of the Texas Jail Project.

“I can’t tell you how many times we hear that about people arrested in group homes. They are social workers and nurses, and they all say we are asking for help,” Gundu said. “We wanted him to get help, because they weren’t equipped to give him the kind of help and care he needed.”

A court order filed in February found Campbell incompetent to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred to a state mental health facility to regain competency.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robbie Hoy told the Star-Telegram that Campbell remains in the Tarrant County Jail because there is no mental health facility with space to house him.

“There has to be a facility available that will accept it and so far there isn’t one,” he said in an email exchange.

Taylor and Campbell’s advocates, however, said restoring his competency is impossible because of his developmental disability.

“The first question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Why were you put on the waiting list to restore competency?’” Gundu said. “Because everyone who has worked with him, whether it’s his caseworker or his mother or anyone who has performed any evaluation on him, will tell you that this person does not have the mental capacity to be restored.”

“Kai’Yere is not a criminal, so the district attorney, the judge who ordered his inclusion on the competency restoration waiting list, must abandon those two criminalizing things so that he can be free and clear of receiving the level appropriate care you need. needs for (his disability),” Young said.

“You cannot restore Kai’Yere’s proficiency. Because he does not have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of his behaviors,” Taylor said in an email exchange. “In addition, she does not have the mental capacity to educate herself and retain information. “His medical and mental health social workers are aware of this, everyone within his inner circle of care is.”

Taylor denied the Star-Telegram’s request to see documentation of Campbell’s developmental disability before his arrest in December.

Sorrell’s office did not address claims that Campbell’s competency cannot be restored, citing the February transfer order.

“Due to the order signed by the magistrate, the state cannot proceed with this case until the defendant receives treatment,” said prosecutor’s spokeswoman Anna Tinsley Williams.

Court documents show Campbell refused to dress, eat, take medication and meet with his court-appointed attorney while in custody. The attorney, Jake Wiggins of the Shane Lewis law firm, did not respond to a request for comment.

Young also urged Tarrant County’s My Health My Resources community social work center, which provides services to people with mental health issues and intellectual or developmental disabilities, to expedite Campbell’s placement on the waiting list for a nursing home. state-supported housing.

State-supported residential facilities provide 24-hour care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. State mental health centers are not equipped or intended to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

An MHMR representative said the center provides assistance with applications only and referred the Star-Telegram to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which makes placement decisions for state-supported residential centers.

A commission representative said the agency is legally prohibited from releasing information about Campbell’s candidacy for admission to a state-funded housing facility.

Sorrells has the authority to drop all charges against Campbell, according to Adrienne Frazior, a partner at the Dallas-based Polsinelli law firm who specializes in government investigations.

“They can never prosecute a case, never take it to the grand jury or never file charges, but they can also dismiss the case at any time,” he said. “They have broad discretion to do that.”

Sorrells has practiced that discretion in the past. In the summer of 2023, his office cited prosecutorial discretion to drop charges of aggravated assault and official oppression against three jailers who allegedly beat an inmate at the Tarrant County Jail in 2020.

© 2024 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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