The first case in Ohio and the nation under a new law prohibiting the execution of people with serious and persistent mental illness has been decided in Franklin County,
David Braden will be removed from Death Row following a joint agreement between the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack, attorney Kathryn Sandford of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, and Dublin attorney Steven M. Brown.
Braden will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole.
The reason for the action is Braden was diagnosed to have “serious mental illness,” specifically paranoid schizophrenia with delusions when he committed two murders in Columbus in 1998. He was sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend, Denise Roberts, and her father, Ralph Heimlich.
House Bill 136, a new state law long advocated for by the National Alliance for Mental Illness Ohio, was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on April 12, 2021. The law prevents the state from executing someone who had a persistent mental illness at the time of the crime “that significantly impaired the person’s capacity to exercise rational judgment in relation to the person’s conduct.”
Psychiatrists who examined Braden told the court he was “intimidating, decompensated under stress, and had delusions of being a prophet of God.” He is now being treated in prison with antipsychotic medications.
Ohio is the first state in the U.S. to pass a law banning the execution of the mentally ill. However, similar legislation is pending in other states, including Florida, which is modeling its proposal on Ohio’s law.
Read more about this case on The Columbus Dispatch website at https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/courts/2021/06/24/columbus-murderer-first-inmate-spared-death-penalty-under-new-state-law/5320849001/
NAMI Ohio, “the state’s voice on mental illness,” cannot thank the Ohio Senate enough for approving a 2022/2023 budget that will serve Ohio’s citizens and their families dealing with mental illness.
During the House and Senate budget hearings, changes were made that would have lessened the voice of those living with mental illness and their families. This included muting the voices of families and individuals living with mental illness from community mental health boards. The members of the Ohio Senate heard NAMI Ohio’s plea and removed most of that stigmatizing language.
In addition, Governor DeWine, in his budget, had pledged funding for student wellness. These funds were to be used in schools to address the behavioral problems students may exhibit when returning to the classroom. The student wellness funds were removed by the House of Representatives but were restored by the Senate. NAMI Ohio wants every elected official to know that this will save lives.
Being a legislator responsible for so many issues is an extremely difficult job. But, during this session, the Senate prioritized the need to help Ohio’s citizens suffering from mental illness. For that, we are extremely grateful.
As this process moves forward, we feel confident that Governor DeWine, the Ohio House of Representatives, and the Ohio Senate will continue to be our heroes.
We want to thank the thousands of NAMI supporters who advocated during this budget process through making phone calls, sending emails, attending meetings, and more. These actions helped to raise the volume of NAMI’s voice at the Ohio Statehouse.
Executive Director, NAMI Ohio
Watch the Recording of the NAMI Ohio Children’s Division Facebook Live discussion with Akron Children’s Hospital Director of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology, Dr. Steven Jewell, on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our children and what to expect as we transition back to in-person activities and interactions.
POSITION DESCRIPTION: DIRECTOR – CHILDREN’S DIVISION
The Director for the Children’s Division at NAMI Ohio is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the Children’s Division and also serves as a representative from NAMI Ohio to the external professional children’s mental health community. The Director is responsible for three programs with the division. These programs are: Family Peer Support Training; Parent Advocacy Connection (PAC); and YouthMove. Each program has one staff member who serves as the program lead. The Children’s Director serves as the direct supervisor for those staff.
The Director is responsible for reporting to funders as well as the NAMI Ohio Executive Director. In addition to supervision, this position helps manage the budget and reporting for all programs. This position also serves as the primary liaison between NAMI Ohio and the OMHAS Children’s Division Director. Lastly, the Director will work with the Staff and Board to develop and implement an advocacy plan that promotes access to quality children’s programs throughout the State of Ohio.
Skills: The Children’s Division Director should have a solid working knowledge of the child-serving system of care (mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, juvenile justice, family and children’s first councils, etc.). Knowledge regarding children’s mental health is essential. The ability to be task oriented, flexible, have excellent time management, communication, and stress management skills are critical as well as those tied to being an effective team leader. A thorough knowledge of applicable state rules and regulations and stay up-to-date with any legislative changes that can affect the operation of the program. Collaboration across other NAMI departments as well as with affiliates to further the reach of children’s programming. Implementation of core NAMI initiatives in partnership with peers. Ability to be a vocal advocate for children and families involved in the mental health system.
- Bachelor’s degree and at least 5 years of experience in a related field; master’s degree preferred.
- Strong collaboration and communication skills, and willingness to consult with internal and external stakeholders.
- Demonstrated understanding of knowledge management principles and capacity to deliver management and/or organizational learning activities.
- Excellent facilitation, program/activity management, and written and oral communication skills.
- Creative problem-solving and ability to work under tight deadlines.
- Proven ability to lead project teams and deliver impact, with minimal supervision in a fast-paced and challenging environment.
- High level of competency in learning management software/platforms, and Microsoft Office Suite
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Strong organizational skills and can be detail oriented while holding the larger strategy.
- Models curiosity, flexibility, integrity and commitment to the NAMI mission, vision and values.
This is a Full-time position. Compensation and Benefits package competitive. Send resume and salary requirements to Luke Russell at Luke@namiohio.org
Download Position Description
Written by: Alan Johnson
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio supports the proposed state budget, House Bill 110, because it offers an enhanced focus on adults with serious mental illness and begins to address what is missing in Ohio’s mental health system – personalized care, support, and/or treatment.
However, NAMI Ohio does have concerns about provisions altering the makeup of county mental health boards and a shift altering Gov. Mike DeWine’s original Student Wellness and Success Funds.
In written testimony submitted to the Ohio Senate Health Committee, NAMI Ohio Executive Director Terry Russell called House Bill 110 “the right direction for Ohio. The governor and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services approach to a multi-system adult service system is in the right direction
Russell continued, “Over 50,000 Ohioans with disabling mental illness end up in homeless shelters, jails, prisons, and in and out of psychiatric hospitals – UNLIKE other disabled populations such as individuals with Developmental Disabilities or aging. NAMI Ohio believes HB 110 begins to recognize that serious and persistent mental illness is often times disabling, and we need to address the quality of life for these individuals currently in the system.”
Since 1988, when the state passed the historic Mental Health Act, six state psychiatric hospitals were closed. But in the intervening 32 years, the promised community support system for those with serious and persistent mental illness find themselves in prisons, jails, homeless, and in sub-standard housing.
Russell praised several specific components of the budget bill, including:
- A new focus on collaborative, multi-system services for those with serious and persistent mental illness beyond the typical community mental health treatment model will save lives by increasing access to care.
- Improved quality of life for those living in residential group homes by giving residential operators a financial incentive.
- Increased funding for Crisis Stabilization Centers and regional State Psychiatric Hospitals to provide “a critical part of the crisis continuum of care and act as a safety net for those needing longer lengths of inpatient care.”
- Greater focus on intervention for those with mental illness living in jails and state correctional facilities.
Russell testified that NAMI Ohio opposes changes in the budget that would remove the requirement for individuals with lived experience, family members, and professionals to serve on local Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards. He said the changes are “wrong and play into the stigma toward those with mental illness and substance use disorders. We believe this is a disservice to the individuals with mental illness and their families by eliminating their voice on local County ADAMH Boards.”
Russell further said NAMI Ohio would like to see Gov. DeWine’s original Student Wellness and Success Funds restored as part of an updated school funding formula. As amended, the budget would combine Student Wellness and Success Funds with the Economically Disadvantage funds into the Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA) fund.
He said the combination would reduce overall funding and overlay a distribution plan based solely on the number of low-income students identified in each school and the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch. Russell said while unintended this approach “stigmatizes social-emotional development, mental health, and prevention as limited to low-income students and families.”
In conclusion, Russell said NAMI Ohio believes the budget will improve services to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, allow the state to focus on the most vulnerable population, prioritize a “Person-Centered Care Model,” boost support for housing, food, and shelter, and allow the development of rehabilitation centers, group homes, day services, clubhouses, and peer recovery centers.