Mobile, Ala (WKRG) In Alabama, a man accused of molesting animals and a series of other crimes is in jail while some argue he should be getting help at a mental health institution. In fact the one who owns the horse that was one of Daniel Bennet’s alleged victims says he doesn’t belong in jail but somewhere getting treatment.
Francine Janes says, “You cannot rehabilitate anyone that needs medication for their disorder. They need counseling. Those types of things are not conducive in a jail.”
Janes is a former mental health professional who worked for nearly 3 decades in the field. While she says Bennet admits to “having relations” with her horse, she wants him in a medical health treatment center. However, the state-run facilities like Searcy Hospital have all closed down in Alabama. Now the mentally ill who commit crimes, go to jail.
Mobile County Metro offers psychological help and medicine but they’re overwhelmed.
Warden Trey Oliver III says, “We have those who come off the streets who are seriously mentally ill and are not on medication, so we have to keep them separated from everyone. Because a lot of times they’re just stripped down naked in a suicide cloth and put in a cell by themselves.”
Warden says his officers and on staff medical professionals administered more than 250 psychotropic drugs-daily. He said this has been a growing trend since the State closed the Searcy Mental Health facility in Mt. Vernon in 2012.
“They might have saved some money by shutting down Searcy and a lot of people may have felt bad for individuals being warehoused in a hospital, well guess where they’re being warehoused now in county jails across this country,” says Warden Oliver.
Warden Oliver III says the jail doesn’t have the resources to provide long term care to the mentally ill. “The root cause of their mental illness has not been treated, they’re still sick, so it’s a never ending cycle.”
In Bennet’s case, he was put behind bars for the alleged molesting of a horse but he’s since been charged with breaking and entering in January 2019. Nearly a year after he was first arrested. In that case, he was found with a sex toy, razors, and taser. Janes says that’s what’s most disturbing; Bennet’s accused behavior continues to escalate opening the door for a crime of violence.
“There’s a lot of mentally ill people that have committed crimes not because they wanted too or intentionally did it. They don’t know any better,” says Janes.
In Alabama, some of the mentally ill are transported to private facilities for treatment. However, once they’re stabilized they’re released to the jail or back on the streets.