Call

Though Waday is suffering alone in a solitary confinement cell, he is one of hundreds in the city; thousands in the state; millions in the country. For too long this country has criminalized mental illness and has used that criminalization as an avenue for the prison industrial complex to profit from the misfortune of the mentally ill. Our elected officials have always been aware of this systemic injustice, but our rising awareness demands that we as a people, as a nation, hold them responsible. It is our job.

Below is a list of officials who have the power to implement change. They must be held accountable.

NOTE: Please do not mention Steven’s (Waday) name when calling. We do not want them to target Steven’s case and make his trial harder. If they ask about him, ensure that you are calling on behalf of the 34% of mentally ill incarcerated people currently being held in McLennan County Jail.

*For those calling out of state, be sure to emphasize the “our”... “our area” “our city” “our county”.

*Feel free to leave your number if you feel moved to do so. It is not a requirement.

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Barry Johnson, Head of the District Attorney's Office

(254) 757-5084, ext 2434

*They may ask for a case number. You do not need one. This is not about one case but about the many cases, the 34% of McLennan’s prisoner population, incarcerated because of mental illness.

NOTE: Please do not mention Steven’s name when calling the DA office. We do not want them to target Steven’s case and make his trial harder. If they ask about him, ensure them that you are calling on behalf of the 34% of mentally ill incarcerated people currently being held in McLennan County Jail.

Suggested Script:

Hello, this is/my name is ______. I am calling to speak with District Attorney Barry Johnson.

When Barry Johnson took the position of District Attorney, he vowed to expedite the trial process to shorten the pretrial waiting period for incarcerated individuals awaiting their day in court. I am calling to ask why the DA’s office has decided to waterlog the judicial process, and waste taxpayers' dollars, by mandating a prerequisite trial by jury, for all incompetency hearings regarding the mentally impaired? Barry Johnson’s new policy doubles the amount of time a mentally ill person is in jail during the pretrial period; leaving countless to suffer in solitary while awaiting their day in court. Why does your new policy mandate a pretrial competency hearing, even after patients have been diagnosed by a state appointed psychiatrist? Does Barry Johnson not feel an ethical obligation to stop this unnecessary prolonged incarceration of the mentally ill, especially given that there is a COVID outbreak at McLennan County Jail, putting more and more mentally ill people at risk?

What does Barry Johnson plan to do about this inhumane policy?

Representative Charles Anderson (R), Texas District 56

(254) 754-3892 (Waco Division)/ (512) 463-0135 (Austin Division)

Hello, my name is ____. I am calling to contact Representative Charles Anderson and a bill he failed to get passed.

In 2018 Representative Anderson had an opportunity to pass a bill to renovate and transform the vacant Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, into a state-run mental-health facility. The proposal would have eased the statewide mental-health crisis, and added 1,000 new jobs to our area. Representative Anderson, why did your office allow the bill to die on the floor? Are you aware that there are rising numbers of mentally ill citizens in your district who are being arrested and placed in solitary confinement for years at a time? while they await placement in mental-health care facilities? Mentally ill people are not criminals. What is your plan to remedy this inhumane treatment? And will you recommit to fighting for the passage of the abandoned mental-health care bill?

Daniel Thompson, Executive Director of MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation) Waco,Texas

(254) 752-3451 ext 1201

If you cannot get through to Daniel Thompson, ask for:

Melinda Bonds, Head of Jail Diversion Unit

(254) 640-1358 or at (254) 297-7013

Jennifer Higginbotham, Director of Adult Mental Health Services

(254) 297-7061 or at (254) 752 -3451

For Daniel Thompson: Hello, my name is ____. I am attempting to reach Daniel Thompson, the Executive Director of MHMR.

For Melinda Bonds/ Jennifer Higginbotham: Hello Melinda/ Jennifer, I want to get more information about the jail diversion program.

You've been given federal funds to create a jail diversion program for the mentally ill, but you have used those funds to hire more jail support staff. This seems like jail rerouting and not jail diversion.In fact, it is your policy to send out the police, rather than the emergency mental-health response team, when someone calls you in distress seeking mental-health support. It is clear that this policy perpetuates the wrongful incarceration of countless mentally ill patients in your care. What is your plan to dismantle this systemic pipeline? And what are you doing to ensure proper care and placement for the hundreds of mentally ill patients who are currently incarcerated as a result of your policies?

Kyle Deaver, Mayor of Waco, Texas

(254) 761-5975

I am calling on behalf of Steven Waday Walker-Webb, a bipolar-schizophrenic citizen, who is currently incarcerated at the McLennan County Jail. Steven has committed no crime, yet has spent over 100 days in solitary confinement waiting for a mental-health bed, while he awaits his day in court. He is one of hundreds. 34% of the people incarcerated in the city of Waco struggle with mental illness. With such a significant number of incarcerated patients waiting for a mental health care bed, why didn’t your office advocate for the opening of a mental health hospital in the former Hillcrest Medical Center instead of allowing it to be torn down? This is a failure on every level. Waday, like hundreds of others, is waiting indefinitely in solitary confinement for a mental health bed that doesn’t exist. The health care system has abandoned him, the justice system continues to violate him, what will your office do for its most vulnerable citizens?