Hello, my name is Vontasha Simms. I am writing you concerning the death of my grandson Ji'Aire Lee, and the incarceration of my mentally ill daughter Romechia Simms. She should be released immediately from the Charles County Detention Center. She is incarcerated on a 150,000 dollars bond. The mental health laws, and funding must be adequate, and must change. Not only in Charles county but the entire state of MD. There's more than 42 million people in the United states that suffer from a mental illnesses. More than 5 million of them live in the state of Maryland, over 17% of it's population. 1 out of every 4 household in the united states suffer from someone in that household having a mental illness. Over 50,000 people in Maryland suffer from schizophrenia, while another 100,000 suffer from varies degrees of bipolar. Many others remain untreated or undiagnosed. While those who do seek treatment are many times treated unfairly or even abused. Maryland is recommended to have 50 beds per 100,000 mentally ill persons, Maryland falls well short of that mark. Maryland has lost nearly 150 beds in the last 5 years. Also like many others states, Maryland incarcerates more mentally ill people than they remand to treatment facilities. The Treatment Advocacy Center study in 2010 determined that there are 3 times as many mentally ill person doing jail time than receiving treatment in a hospital. The state of Maryland is one of the 5 out of 50 states that do not have an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), nor Mental Health Courts and Crisis Intervention Training. All of these programs are proven to reduces that rate of mental illness relapse and a return to incarceration. My daughter Romechia has been a resident of Charles County since 2005. She attended Laplata high School and went on to graduate from Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf Md. Shortly after graduation she attended Bowie State College and aspired to gain her degree as a teacher. She has worked since high school. After being in a relationship and becoming pregnant she then had my grandson Ji'Aire. Ji'Aire was the light of her life. She devoted herself to him and loved him unconditionally. As mother and grandmother whom was struggling herself. I did seek as much help and resources that were available to my family. Often our cries went unmet. Romechia struggled in her relationship and being able to provide for her son. She was struggling with trying to work, daycare and saving to buy a car. It isn't exactly none what cause mental illnesses. It's causes could be anything from stress, trauma, environment or hereditary.
In February of 2015, my daughter Romechia experienced the onset of a mental illness for the first time in her life. Romechia was hospitalize briefly at Southern md Hospital in PG. County md on two different occasions. Do to insurance reasons her stay was not long enough. That must change. I contacted Charles County Sheriff's Department and Laplata police dept. on several occasions explaining some concerns with my daughter and my grandson. Charles County Sheriff department must get a Crisis Intervention Team, in order to properly treat those who are in crisis and suffering from a mental illness. At every incident I was told that I had no rights. This is why I am asking for a law to be passed called Ji'Aire's Law. As a mother and grandmother I should have some type of rights concerning the supervision, and, or guardianship over my mentally ill child and minor grandson. My daughter was seeking treatment while also going to the doctors complaining about how the medications was causing her to have headaches. I had contacted the Charles County Department Social Services, Ms. Rita Woods from Charles County Community Services, County Commissioner Davis, Lifestyles of Southern MD, Southern MD Community network, numerous other agencies and churches seeking assistance only to remain homeless along with my mentally ill daughter and 3 year old grandson.
Do to a combination of mental illness and overwhelming circumstances my grandson passed away on May the 22nd at Will's Memorial Park in Laplata while under my daughters care. She had experienced a mental break and was not in touch with reality and unaware of the circumstances, though she caused no physical harm to him she neglected to feed herself or him. They stayed outside in the park for nearly two days. My grandson passed away from hyperthermia and dehydration. My daughter is now charged with First degree child abuse, child neglect and manslaughter. This tragedy should never have happened to my grandson, my daughter or my family. I would beg to ask the question ,Is it my daughter Romechia who is neglectful and abusive?, or rather is it the State of MD who have neglected to provide adequate care and treatment for my mentally ill daughter, and insure the safety of her minor child?. And yes it is abusive to have a family pleading for help across Charles County only to be beaten down time and time again. In the summer months the only shelter that Charles County provides for the homeless is a tent in the woods. They also took my housing voucher away because they wouldn't allow me to put my mentally ill daughter and my grandson on it. So I choose to stay in the motel with my children. A mother I should never have to choose between leaving her mentally ill child and grandchild on the streets, or a place to lay my head. So you can answer the questions for yourselves.
Mental illness is just that, an illness no different from cancer, high-blood pressure or diabetes. There's no cure but it can be treated. The mentally ill can maintain a productive role in society and in life, if given the proper treatment and resources. They shouldn't be shoned or stigmatized. Now my daughter Romechia is not only left to deal with the anguish and grief of the lose of her only child, but also left to deal with the punishment of a situation in which she had no control over, and was begging for help in order to get a handle on her illness. Charles county has no adequate mental health rehabilitation for inmates. They are just medicated and locked away, No real plan for success. She doesn't deserve that. It was the state of MD and Charles County government that failed Romechia. Therefore I ask that you please sign this petition in order to change the laws for adequate and fair treatment of the mentally ill, and bring awareness to the treatment of the mentally ill in the state of MD, as well as Charles county. And most importantly for the release of my daughter Romechia Simms. She has suffered enough and should be out where she is able to receive the proper treatment and care that she has been getting, so that oneday she may have a chance at productive life and a meaningful role in society.
Policy recommendations suggests the State of Maryland shouldn't incarcerated the mentally ill, instead they should be place in a psychiatric treatment facility. The state of Maryland should also provide adequate preventive treatment for the mentally ill, stop eliminating psychiatric beds for those in crisis. Restore sufficient number of beds for those on crisis. Along with mental health housing,and legislation for more grants and funding for the prevention of mental crisis and promotion of mental wellness. To provide active use of state's civil commitment laws in order to provide more timely treatment to those in crisis and their families. In order to reduce the consequences of non-treatment. This must change. It could be you or someone you love. I am also looking to get donation to free my daughter from jail. You can donate at paypal.me/vontashasimms.. Help change and save a life today. RIP Ji'Aire Lee. Please sign and share.