GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Kari Moss, 34, has suffered from mental illness for years, and last December, her mother says she came undone.
Charlotte Steigenga said her daughter's medication was adjusted in December 2016, while she was also working a fulltime job as a teacher with AmeriCorps. Moss' doctor at the time recommended she only work 20 hours per week, but Moss insisted.
"She was doing a beautiful job... but it was just too much for her," Steigenga said.
Steigenga recalled that it was around that time her daughter started showing signs of erratic behavior.
"I had to make a tough love decision, and I told her without seeking treatment she could only live at home for 30 more days," Steigenga said.
Steigenga said her daughter's actions at the At-Tawheed Islamic Center, which led to her nearly year long jail stint, followed shortly after that.
Investigators said Moss asked people arriving at the center for money and made threats saying she had a gun on Jan. 2, 2017. She also made reference to "blowing something up.''
But the police found neither claim to be true.
"It was an act of desperation," Steigenga said.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, a judge sentenced Moss to 3 years probation with no further jail time.
Steigenga said she believes the sentencing is fair, but she is confident her daughter would have never committed this crime if she had consistent care a year ago.
An emotional Steigenga said her daughter refused visits with family members for the 345 days she has spent in jail. Moss had access to her medication at her own discretion while in jail, so it's unclear if she's been taking it consistently.
Steigenga said she knows of at least one incident which led to the hospitalization of her daughter during her jail time.
Once she is released from custody -- Moss will go to an adult foster care home as opposed to living with her mother, where she lived for the last 8 years.
Her last episode prior to this was in 2012. A petition was approved in Kent County Probate Court to have Moss involuntarily committed to Forest View Psychiatric Hospital following a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
Moss represents only one example of the large population of mentally ill people currently flooding the criminal justice system. According to the Michigan Dept. of Corrections, 20 percent of Michigan prisoners receive some sort of mental health care.
And according to this study, Michigan also ranks in the top 20 worst states in terms of the amount of incarcerated mentally ill individuals compared to the level of accessibility to proper mental health care.
Snyder's orders led to the formulation of a Mental Health Diversion Council. The council is testing a number of pilot initiatives throughout the state and conducted a thorough baseline report to determine their next steps.
But there is still work to be done -- in 2016, 18 percent of those entering Michigan jails suffered from some sort of serious mental illness, which is an improvement from the 24 percent in 2015.
For information about prisoner's rights and access to health care in Michigan, visit the MDOC website.
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