Harold says, "Domestic Relations gets a "RANT" for how they handled this case!" Lackawanna County PA Domestic Relations jailed a mentally ill man.

Read his story about how we fought for him and won his case and his children finally got the child support they needed. The case involved a 21 year old male, (at the time he was 21), who had fallen behind with his child support payments. The reason he had done so was because he was mentally ill and could not support himself by working.

First a brief history of his life: At the age of 9 he began being treated for mental illness (diagnosed as a schizophrenic with paranoia)...he was seeing things and hearing voices. Truth is...he was being abused! Throughout his childhood and teen years he was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for repeatedly trying to harm or kill himself. He married and had children. He was not able to keep the marriage going due to his illness. No one in his family understood his mental condition or his illness. They thought he was "faking it" or was doing what he was doing to get attention. WRONG! In one year alone he worked at 26 different jobs. He lost every one of them because of problems relating to his mental condition.

He was arrested a couple of different times for failure to pay his child support and incarcerated. He begged and pleaded with the officers at the domestic relations office, his counselors in jail and with the court to understand his mental illness however they just dismissed him and put him back in jail. He would then be released back into society and repeat the same process all over again. Work, lose his jobs, not pay his support, and go back to jail...and the amount of the support he owed kept accumulating each month.

Then I stepped in. I had heard and seen enough. Here is what happened: (I knew and fully realized at this time he was mentally ill and needed help and not incarceration!) First I tried to negotiate with Domestic Relations on his behalf. I had become his legal Power of Attorney so I could speak and act on his behalf. No negotiations and no deals! Domestic Relations had him arrested him again and put him in jail. The sheriffs went to his place of employment...(he was trying to work at least)...and arrested him. He had a Contempt of Court hearing and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. (If you read the transcript of the hearing it would break your heart. He begged and pleaded with the court for understanding and help because of his mental illness. Talk about misinformation and disinformation given to the judge by medical staff at the prison. It was awful. He was incarcerated nevertheless.) When he went to the Lackawanna County Prison I alerted all parties that he would not "harm or kill himself" in jail by hanging himself with his shoelaces or by some other "unexplained" means. They were to watch him and keep him safe while I worked through the system to get him released and get him the help he finally needed. I contacted every state representative and senator as appropriate, every government agency-including the PA state governorís office, (they responded), and federal government agency...the Department of Justice...as I felth that they were violating the rights of a disabled man. It took time, however, after several and I do mean several letters, faxes, and calls to Domestic Relations, the court, and the government agencies...(and with a little help from one of the kindest and most professional prison wardens I have ever met and worked with)...he was released from prison and taken to the mental health unit at a local hospital.

He was admitted, evaluated, and treated. His doctor completed and filed the appropriate paperwork for Social Security Disability and forwarded it to the local Social Security Office. Within one week he was approved. He did not get the customary rejection of his claim the first time. There are several reasons for this, however, what is important is that he was approved the first time he filed. I got a call on a SATURDAY...(can you believe it?)...someone actually called me from the Social Security office on a Saturday to let me know he had been approved for Social Security and that within 10 days he would have his first check? As promised, he got his checks and the children began to get their support. The end of this story is this...he got the medical attention he so desperately needed, he got Social Security and his children get support every month, no more incarceration for failure to pay his support, and he is able to live his life. HE WON! THE CHILDREN WON! THE TAXPAYERS WON! THIS WAS A TOTAL WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR EVERYONE!

Do you have a similar problem you need help with? Do you have a "RANT" or "RAVE" you would like to share about your experience with a government agency? If you do, go to www.haroldsays.com and send me your feedback. I will respond to you.