The list of Trishawn Cardessa Carey’s prescriptions fills a page in her case file: clonazepam for seizures and panic, methocarbamol for muscle spasms and quetiapine for spells of psychosis. She suffers delusions, paranoia and “dramatic mood swings.”
For years, the homeless woman has lived off Social Security tied to her mental disability — a doctor diagnosed her with schizoaffective disorder — and she has cycled into and out of L.A. County jails 10 times since 2002, according to court documents filed by her attorney, Milton Grimes.
Carey now could face decades in prison after picking up an LAPD officer’s baton and raising it in the air during a violent skid row incident earlier this year. The case spotlights a challenge for officials as they begin a new effort to improve the way Los Angeles’ criminal justice system handles offenders with mental illness.
Retired UCLA law professor (and Of Counsel to Western Center) Gary Blasi, who has studied homelessness, said Carey’s case underscores the need to rethink how the criminal justice system handles the mentally ill.
“They are just dealing with symptoms,” he said. “They are doing nothing more than recycling people through the criminal justice system.”