In my editorial from the October issue of Behavioral Healthcare, I wrote about a visit to the Mentally Ill Offender Facility (MIOF) operated by the Bexar County, Texas Community Corrections Department and about the comment made by one of the offenders at the facility. The facility allows for the diversion of 60 non-violent offenders from prison into a secure, highly structured environment, generally for three to six months of treatment.
Not long ago, I got a note from the niece of one of the offenders being treated in the program which stated in part:
My uncle Manuel is currently in the facility you toured in San Antonio, Texas. He was the “voice from the men’s dorm” who said, “Cleveland Rocks!”
… I am so grateful for this program because it forced him to address his issues without having to deal with everyday life at the same time. This is not an option for so many people and is probably a contributing factor as to why people relapse or just can’t cope with it all at once.
Let me back up a bit…Manuel was arrested for setting his car on fire after an argument with his ex-girlfriend. He also took about 30 Xanax right before he did it and hoped to die. He has been diagnosed as Bipolar 1 with multiple addictions. Our family has a history of depression and ADD. His story is one of many where his condition went ignored as a child and was [made worse by] abandonment, lack of structure and attention.
He is a master welder by trade, is brilliant at what he does, has a great sense of humor, is smart, thoughtful, helpful, multi-talented and an all-around very likeable person. However, he has been one of the MOST self-destructive people I have ever encountered. He has worked for some of the best companies in San Antonio where he was usually highly regarded and generously compensated for his skills, but always ended up sabotaging it and having to start all over again. Needless to say, I am one of Manuel’s biggest fans and have a lot invested in him.
But I am worried that he will fall into [recidivism]. I will be there to help support and encourage the programs he is required to participate in upon leaving the program, [including] a wonderful re-training program he is eligible for. He wants to go back to school and learn a new trade because he was injured on the job and is no longer able to withstand the physical stress of being a welder.
“Cleveland Rocks” was most likely [his] way of saying he was glad to see you, glad to hear what you had to say and that he is hopeful for his future. I also think it was his way of thanking you for being one of those people who cares enough to invest their time in people like him. This was a wonderful letter to receive, though the thanks expressed by this young woman belong to the many individuals in Bexar County, Texas who have built such a wonderful program and to those across the country who run programs like it. Several such programs are highlighted in the November/December 2011 issue.