Most readers are already well aware of Tony Lester's story. Tony was sentenced to the Arizona Department of Corrections in 2010 for 12 years on assault charges stemming from a suicide attempt during a psychotic episode the previous year - the friends who tried to stop him from cutting his throat got hurt themselves, grabbing the knife.
In Arizona, people with mental illness are almost ten times more likely to be locked behind bars than admitted to the state hospital when they need help. Not surprisingly, instead of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital that night, Tony was put in jail, then criminally prosecuted. Tony was so ill when this happened that it took nine months to restore him to sufficient competency in the wake of the incident to be tried for it. Soon after he arrived in state prison - receiving no treatment there for his mental illness - Tony killed himself.
This weekend one of the people on his jury posted the comment below to the MSNBC website following the piece Wendy Halloran did at KPNX on his suicide...the comment after it was left by Tony's aunt. This seems to be a call for sentencing reform and more diversion of the mentally ill from the criminal justice system in the first place...
The recorded interviews were obtained by KPNX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, which has spent much of the past year digging into the suicide of Anthony Clayton Lester, 26, in July 2010.
The station reports that Lester, who was serving a 12-year sentence for aggravated assault, had a long history of mentally illness and had tried to kill himself the previous month. But he was taken off his medications and was removed from a suicide watch two days before his death..."
#123 - Sun Jan 1, 2012 2:58 PM EST