Woman’s arrest highlights lack of mental health treatment | News

A St. John woman has had her latest criminal case thrown out, but it’s unclear if she and others struggling with mental illness will get the help they need given a lack of medical facilities. treatment, staff and diversion programs.

Charisma Turnbull, 32, has been arrested eight times since 2011, and St. John police officers know of her outbursts and apparent symptoms of mental illness.

His latest arrest came just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, when officers responded to reports that Turnbull was causing a disturbance on King Street in Cruz Bay.

An officer has warned Turnbull to stop harassing businesses, according to a probable cause fact sheet.

Turnbull nodded and mumbled something the officer couldn’t understand. Officers began going to a business to interview a complainant, but “heard citizens shouting that ‘charisma’ is taking its toll”, so officers responded.

Police said they saw Turnbull yelling at restaurant staff, “spitting and throwing water in the direction of an employee.”

The police stopped her in front of another restaurant “and told her that she would be arrested if she continued to harass businesses. Ms Turnbull did not comply and began yelling and insulting the officers: “Get out of here, leave me alone, I’m not talking to you,” according to the fact sheet.

According to the fact sheet, officers handcuffed Turnbull – who was struggling to get away – and police then informed a shift supervisor of officers’ use of force.

Police returned to the original case and spoke with the complainant, who said Turnbull knocked down signs and removed a mirror from a parked Jeep Renegade nearby.

Turnbull threw the mirror at the complainant, who said it hit her feet and ankle, and she exercised her right to make a citizen’s arrest.

The arresting officer added in the fact sheet that: “I have known that Ms. Charisma Turnbull suffered from mental illness. Also, during our service, we usually receive several calls of harassment complaints about him. »

Police charged Turnbull with common assault, disturbing the peace and interfering with an officer. Unable to post bail, Turnbull was kept in jail in St. Thomas.

VI Police have repeatedly been forced to arrest Turnbull when her behavior becomes a danger to herself or others, but her mental illness means she cannot be tried or help in her own defence, and she is finally released.

In the latest case, Turnbull was too ill to appear in court for her rights board hearing via video link on Wednesday, so she was prosecuted.

On Friday, Territorial Public Defender Julie Todman said she was notified by the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections that Turnbull “was unable to appear as she was still not mentally stable,” according to an order. filed by Magistrate Judge Paula Norkaitis.

Assistant Attorney General VI Brenda Scales told Norkaitis that the plaintiff did not want to pursue the charges, and Norkaitis dismissed the case and ordered Turnbull released from jail.

Turnbull had previously been arrested on January 31, 2021 for common assault and destruction of property. Investigating magistrate Henry Carr III complained at the time that he could not ‘keep her in jail forever’, when the Department of Health could not find a bed in a treatment center . “Prison cannot be a warehouse for the mentally ill,” he said.

The justices are keenly aware of the territory’s growing mental health crisis — and have been sounding the alarm for years — calling on the executive to fulfill its mandate to provide social and public health services.

“What is clear is that the Virgin Islands lacks proper care for the mentally ill or mentally ill population, and that population is growing every day. And so, the court expresses its hope that this situation will be dealt with by those who have the power to do so, because the court does not have the power to do so,” said St. Croix Magistrate Judge Ernest Morris Jr., Jan. 17. 24 at a hearing for Jahmila Greenaway, 29.

Like Turnbull, Greenaway was repeatedly arrested when the symptoms of her untreated mental health issues became unmanageable.

“It’s where Miss Greenaway ends up whenever she has a breakdown,” Morris said. “Many other jurisdictions have created courts that deal with these kinds of issues, mental health courts, and maybe it’s time for the Virgin Islands to invest in such cases.”

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. declared a mental health emergency three years ago, but the Department of Health is still unable to provide prompt hospital treatment and other forms of support. intensive care for the most vulnerable members of the community.

While some are shipped off the island to private facilities in other jurisdictions, others are released onto the streets without treatment.

“I know a young woman who was arrested two and a half weeks ago, and this is the fifth time she has been arrested and she continues to be released,” Senator Kurt Vialet said Wednesday during a committee hearing. “All of his incidents are a direct result of his behavioral health issues.”

Deputy Health Commissioner Renan Steele said a mental health court system could be set up to streamline the process of connecting inmates to mental health services.

But without more staff and facilities with beds available, the ministry cannot provide these services.

“We have case managers treating over 100 patients,” Steele said.