Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Did the State of Alabama Kill Farron Barksdale?

Lera slammed down the phone, but she knew the Athens police had told her the truth--there was nothing they could do. In the kitchen, Lera's 30 year-old son Lew was throwing flatware onto the floor as he looked for a knife to kill his stepbrother; Lew was schizophrenic and had an IQ of 65.

Lera finally manged to calm Lew with promises of a new radio to replace the one his young stepbrother had broken, but what about next time? The Athens police were familiar with Lew, as were the Limestone County judges. Her oldest child had been committed before, but now there was no more room in the Decatur hospital where such patients were admitted. Lera was afraid that incarcerating Lew for twelve hours in the Athens City Jail would only worsen her son's condition, so she did nothing.

Lera has since passed away, and Lew lives in a group home where he receives the help and support he needs. No one knows what would have eventually happened if Lew had remained with his family in Athens...

Like Lew, Farron Barksdale was schizophrenic and familiar to the Athens Police Department. The basic difference between Lew and Farron was that the latter's intelligence fell within a normal range, and this made him even more dangerous. Apparently no one thought twice about selling Barksdale a gun, a gun that he used to kill two Athens police officers. No one was concerned that this known schizophrenic was left alone during the week to sit and brood in his mother's small west Athens home, a house ironically located only three blocks from the home of Lew's uncle.

Some have blamed Barksdale's mother Mary for allowing her son to live alone during the day, but perhaps she, like Lera, felt frustrated by the system. The same system eventually paid Mary Barksdale $750,000.00 in her son's death, while still denying all responsibility.

If one can believe the official autopsy reports, Barksdale died from hyperthermia (tempertures in his segregation cell in August reached 100 degrees) exacerbated by the three anti psychotic medications being administered by prison physicians. Currently, at least 18 anti psychotic medications bear a warning not to administer unless air conditioning is available during summer months. Why Kilby doctors ignored these warnings is beyond comprehension.

Now, the Barksdale family will return to court seeking more punitive damages--damages that will come from taxpayer dollars. All because state doctors didn't care, because the Barksdale family had grown too frustrated to act, because state judges and law enforcement authorities had too little power to commit a mentally ill man, because...because it might infringe on our freedoms?

The names of Lera and Lew have been changed.

What's up with this: Sarahpalooza--Palin for president; now that's a scary thought.