Judge: No meaningful way to provide mental health care to defendants with mental illness in CNMI
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has expressed concern that there appears to be no meaningful way to provide mental health care to defendants with mental illness and/or disability in the CNMI criminal justice system.
At a change of plea hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Camacho said he is faced with putting in prison Lucas Taitano Manglona Jr., a 38-year-old mentally ill person with the mental age of a 10-year-old boy, without the proper mental health professionals or a hospital that releases a patient with a history of violence.
Manglona, a habitual offender, pleaded guilty to burglary for breaking into a house of a couple in San Vicente and stealing a couple’s money.
Camacho sentenced Manglona to five years imprisonment.
Manglona was given credit for time served since July 26, 2015.
Camacho said the last two years of the five-year sentence is suspended and may be imposed in whole or in part for violation of law or Office of the Adult Probation rules.
After completing the prison term, Manglona will be placed on probation for three years.
Manglona was required to perform 40 hours of community work service, pay a $100 fine, $25 in court costs, and $100 in probation fee for each year he is on probation.
Manglona was ordered to pay $111 in restitution to the victims. He was prohibited from having direct or indirect contact with the victims and stay away from their house.
Manglona was required to complete any recommended counseling from the Community Guidance Center, if these services are available in the community.
According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, Manglona burglarized the house of a couple in San Vicente and stole a purse for money to buy cigarettes on June 21, 2015.
On Feb. 23, 2016, Dr. Martin Blinder, a Hawaii-based psychiatrist, conducted a mental evaluation on Manglona in part because the defendant has been diagnosed with schizophrenia since at a very young age.
Camacho said Blinder’s psychiatric diagnosis showed that the defendant indeed suffers from schizophrenia and that he is not receiving medication that will address the mental illness.
When Manglona was 14 years old, he reportedly suffered serious head injuries in an auto accident.
Camacho said Blinder’s test and evaluation showed that even though Manglona is 38 years old, his mental age is that of a 10-year-old.
The judge said there is no medication or treatment that will cure Manglona and in effect he will be stuck for the rest of his life at the mental age of a 10-year-old.
The Office of the Attorney General did not contest Binder’s expert findings.
Assistant public defender Matthew Meyer, counsel for Manglona, stated that it is unjust to imprison the defendant when the Commonwealth Health Center has the facilities to treat his mental illness, and to care for the mentally ill, but has made a decision not to hire staff necessary to house people like Manglona.
Assistant attorney general Heather Barcinas stated that the government recognizes that the defendant has a psychological condition and an intellectual disability.
At the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Camacho inquired if the Department of Corrections is equipped to handle defendants with mental illness and/or disability.
Meyer stated that DOC does not have the mental health personnel (doctors) to administer the proper medications, counseling, and other services.
Meyer said CHC will not take any mental patients who have violent behaviors and that CHC simply releases mental health patients if they become violent.