Thank You To My Father: Elmer N. Earley Jr. R.I.P.


November 1920 to February 24, 2015

Minister, devoted husband, wise father, loyal friend

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

                                                                                                                                                           — Jim Valvano

I’m grateful my dad had 94 years, but selfishly yearn for another day more.


Natasha McKenna Case Exposes Flaws In How Someone In Crisis Is Treated: It’s Bigger Than Jail

Treatment Not Incarceration

Treatment Not Incarceration

2-23-15  The Washington Post editorial board joined me Saturday in criticizing the Fairfax County police and sheriff’s department for releasing a press statement that raised more questions than it answered about the death of Natasha McKenna, a 37 year-old African American woman with schizophrenia who suffered cardiac arrest after being shot repeatedly by deputies with a taser while in custody. (Read the Post editorial here.)

Sharon Bulova, the chair of the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the jail, police department and mental health services,  announced she will create a special commission to review law enforcement’s adherence to transparency. This comes after the police were accused of engaging in a cover-up about the police shooting of an unarmed man named John Geer. It was Tom Jackman, a reporter at The Washington Post, whose relentless reporting exposed how the police were trying to hide information behind legal maneuvers.

The McKenna investigation should be turned over to an independent investigator not tied to either the police or sheriff’s department. How can the police be trusted when they joined the sheriff’s office in releasing a shill of a press statement last week?

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Fairfax Officials Fail To Disclose Key Facts About Taser Death: Skip Over Details About Natasha McKenna’s Final Days

Natasha McKenna: Police Mugshot

Natasha McKenna: Police Mugshot

Natasha McKenna, a 37 year-old African American woman with schizophrenia, was struck multiple times in the head by a sheriff’s deputy during an altercation in the jail on January 31st.

I first reported this disturbing fact in a blog on February 10th that I wrote to alert the Washington media that McKenna had been tasered more than four times in jail causing her to experience cardiac arrest.

The Fairfax Police Department and Sheriff’s Department issued a press release yesterday about McKenna. They acknowledged in that statement that McKenna “assaulted” a deputy on January 31st.

But the statement did not provide any details of that “assault,” nor did it acknowledge that during that confrontation a deputy struck McKenna multiple times on her head, even though the deputy followed standard jail procedures and wrote an incident report that described the altercation.

Why didn’t the police and sheriff’s office release a copy of that report? Why haven’t they admitted that a deputy struck McKenna?

This was not the only omission in the joint press release.

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Preaching The Importance of Jail Diversion & A Step Forward At Home

Three minute KSL interview in Salt Lake City about Utah

2-16-15) I’m often interviewed when I travel and when that happens, I always talk about the importance of Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement, problem solving courts and re-entry programs that help persons with mental illnesses receive much needed services after they are discharged from jails or prisons.  Candice Madsen, a reporter for KLS in Utah, divided her interview with me into a local news report and one shown nationally — primarily to members of the Mormon faith.

Three minute national Deseret News interview

Last Thursday (2-12-15), Fairfax County, Virginia, launched a special docket to help veterans. This is a major step where I live because the Virginia judiciary has been reluctant to create much-needed problem solving courts. The credit goes to Judge Penney S. Azcarate who served in our military and was able to rally support from her fellow veterans.

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Face of Woman Tasered In Fairfax Jail: Calling for Treatment, Not Punishment

Natasha McKenna: Police Mugshot

Natasha McKenna: Police Mugshot

This photo shows Natasha McKenna, a 37 year-old woman with schizophrenia, when she was booked into the Fairfax County Jail. Eight days later, she left that jail in an ambulance with two black eyes, a missing middle finger,  severe bruising the length of her left arm and unconscious. She didn’t survive.

What happened in that jail?

A blog that I posted about McKenna on Tuesday of this week (2-11-15) posed that question. Thankfully, reporters in the Washington area who were sent my blog decided to investigate. The Washington Post published an editorial today (2-13) and our local NBC and CBS affiliates also broadcast stories. WTOP, the most popular radio station in the area, chimed in too.  My goal was to alert the public. Persons with mental illnesses need treatment, not incarceration.

When I look at Natasha’s face, I think about my own son, who was tasered by Fairfax Police one night when when he was delusional. I think about how fortunate I am that he did not end up as she did.

Natasha McKenna had a mental illness. That shouldn’t have been a death sentence.

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Sparks Fly At Murphy Hearing: Cheap Shots, Personal Attacks and Traps Alleged

Colorado Democratic Representative Diane DeGette said she was “appalled” by the brutal questioning of SAMHSA Director Pamela Hyde during a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. DeGette’s irritation was aimed at two House Republicans who verbally attacked Hyde and her agency, one personally belittling her as a witness.

Representatives Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Chris Collins (R-NY) irked DeGette, the ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, when they grilled Hyde about agency priorities and her leadership.

Mullin led the two-punch attack during the hearing that was called by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) the committee chair, who last year asked the General Accountability Office to investigate SAMSHA. It issued its report last week.

You can watch Mullin interrogate Hyde by going to 1:36.37 on the YouTube video.

After posting a snapshot of a SAMHSA website called Building Blocks For A Healthy Future on a television monitor, Mullin explained the webpage was designed to teach small children about substance abuse by having them sing songs about healthy living to the tune of Old McDonald and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Click to continue…