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Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:46 PM

XPost from GD: 'I'm Gonna Die in Here'

'I'm Gonna Die in Here': 19-Year-Old Mentally Ill Woman Remains in Jail for Spitting

Hannah Critchfield | August 22, 2019 | 7:00am

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/mentally-ill-arizona-woman-remains-in-jail-for-spitting-11346829

When Vangelina Gloria received a call that her daughter had been arrested in February 2019, she was not surprised. At age 19, her daughter Valentina Gloria was no stranger to the courts — she’d been diagnosed with autism and serious mental illness while she was still a minor, and her past arrests had all stemmed from someone calling the police during previous mental health crises.

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But then, an attorney at the Office of the Public Defender gave her a video from December 2018 that shows Maricopa County officers handcuffing a visibly upset Valentina to a table during a mental health episode. Halfway through the video, she spits on one of the officers.

Valentina has spent five months in jail for this act. It’s still unclear from interviews if she fully understands what’s happening to her, or why. Due to her ongoing mental incapacity, a hearing on July 23 ruled that Valentina will have to wait at least another two months, without bail, before a court will hear her case.

In the meantime, Valentina remains in the Maricopa County jail system, forced to reap the consequences of a criminal justice system that was not made for her — at the expense of her physical and mental health.

Valentina’s stay in jail began in February, when she was arrested for allegedly assaulting a medical health professional while experiencing an episode at an in-patient facility she’d checked into that morning. From there, she was booked into Maricopa County jail for a probation violation.

Charges were not pressed, but her mother soon learned she would not be released. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office was demanding she be held on felony charges related to a spitting incident that happened two months before. That incident began with an arrest on December 29, 2018; Valentina attacked two nurses during yet another mental health crisis at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phoenix, where she was receiving in-patient care.

The hospital called authorities, and deputies took her to Lower Buckeye Jail, where her arms and legs were restrained with handcuffs and leather cuffs, her body stretched out like the letter X on a bed to limit her range of movement.

Two days later, Valentina was still in jail. It was New Year’s Eve 2018. What happened next can be seen in a video given to Vangelina by Eliana Ray Eitches, attorney at the Office of the Public Defender representing the defendant (Vangelina was subsequently assigned a new attorney when she was transferred to another court).

The video shows a calm, still-restrained Valentina being released to use the bathroom. After she does so, she returns to the bed for uniformed officers to chain her back down. But when it comes time to lift her hands up for officers to handcuff her, she pauses. “It’s cold,” she says.

Within four seconds, the officers force her arms back, and Valentina immediately begins to panic.

She sobs and shakes during the entire process. The correctional employees speak calmly, calling her only by her last name. As an officer adjusts a restraint on her right foot, she spits. It hits his cheek.

The officers yell at her, and place a spit mask over her head. A staff member of Correctional Health Services, which contracts with the jail to provide mental health services, is then seen entering for the first time.

This is the crime for which Valentina remains incarcerated. The charges of assault against the nurses at St. Luke’s were dropped a month later. The prosecutor’s office cited Valentina’s mental state as the justification for dismissing the felonies. But the office is still prosecuting her on two counts of “assault by a prisoner with bodily fluids” and two counts of aggravated assault, which also appear related to spitting.

“I guess people think once you’re an inmate, you’re an inmate, and you deserve to be there, to be punished,” said Vangelina. “But when she’s going through a crisis, she’s not controlling what’s going on, either. You have to give her time to de-escalate, be compassionate. They say the people with the mental illness don’t have empathy, but I think it’s the other way around at this point.”

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There is no way to edit this down. The much longer remainder of this story is at the link. Its a harrowing and important read.

8 replies, 718 views

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:53 PM

1. Damn it

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Response to irisblue (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:54 PM

2. Isn't that the truth!

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:56 PM

3. Is it ok to kind of hate a county?

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Response to RGinNJ (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:58 PM

4. Its an emotion I struggle with. I love America. I just don't where America is anymore.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 02:54 PM

5. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill, but for those who are, perception is their reality.

Last edited Wed Sep 4, 2019, 03:36 PM - Edit history (1)

My daughter who have been diagnosed schizoaffective with borderline personality disorder has had trouble with spitting issues. Last summer she claimed when getting off the bus a guy spit on her or when she walks past a car the guy in the car spits on her. I know people spit, but when they do she perceives them as spitting at her.l
The irony is that she ends up spitting herself at others and when she spits at cops they put a mask on her and she doesn't understand why. She is under a state Chapter 51 psychiatric hold so if she is picked up they know enough to take her to the hospital and not to jail,

With her BPD where things are black and white, I am the hero who is awesome and her mother is the villain. I live an hour from her and our visits go well. Her mother lives 6 hours away and the last time she visited my daughter seemed to really be looking forward to it but her mother ended up being hours later than she initially said she would be there and evidently things deteriorated quickly with my daughter screaming at her mom, telling her to take her back to the group home where she lives, and...spitting on her mother, who was emotionally devastated by all of it.
Her mother is a mental health professional herself but for some reason she blames our daughter when she behaves this way like she is choosing to be like that. It's hard to understand.

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Response to elocs (Reply #5)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 03:19 PM

6. The real problem is that your grand daughter has had too much interaction with police ...

and not enough with mental health professionals. There's too many cops and not enough mental health professionals. None of that is her fault. It is ours that most of the mentally ill get to first deal with their illnesses in a jail. Its a crying shame.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #6)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 03:45 PM

7. She is very fortunate that she has access to mental health care

and is not just wandering the streets.
She has her mother to thank for that because she got her on SSI when she was 17.
Too many of her interactions with police have not gone well. Four years ago she was having a psychotic breakdown on the streets, convinced there was a group of guys out to gang-rape her.
Six block from the hospital her case manager and a crisis worker convinced her to voluntarily get into the back of a police car to be driven to the hospital. When the squad car entered the ER bay and the overhead door closed, she panicked because all of sudden they were no longer cops but people out to hurt her so she started banging on the windows.
This pissed of the cop who opened the door and when she wouldn't get out he dragged her out and twisted he arm behind her back, breaking it in 2 places. She screamed, "You broke my arm!" but they still strapped her to a gurney.
She fears the police will hurt her, and then they do.

But she has had much better access to mental health care than many of the mentally ill in this nation.

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Response to elocs (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 04:48 PM

8. I am so glad to hear that. Its a rare thing to hear about these days.

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