Attorney seeks help for client’s mental health

Local News

COLES COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The lawyer for the teenager accused of a school shooting says the 14-year old could be dangerous if he doesn’t get the treatment he needs.

The court has asked for help from the Department of Human Services twice, but no representatives have ever come. Now, Ed Piraino is asking state lawmakers to do something about it.

The state’s attorney even agrees the teenager needs some type of treatment. Piraino says the judge is also in agreement, but they’re not getting any help.

It’s been almost a year since the student was arrested for entering Mattoon High School with a gun. Police say he started firing, hurting another student.

Since then, he’s been in a 6′ x 8′ cell, in Danville, but Piraino sys it’s not where he should be.

“He needs more help and he’s getting none in jail.”

Piraino says a doctor evaluated him and the doctor says the teenager needs four-to-five years of serious psychological help.

“We need DCFS or DHS to find somebody we can go to and say this is what we have. Forget the rule book. He needs help.”

Piraino says he’s tried several mental health facilities in Illinois and even Indiana. They have open beds, they just need money. Piraino says Illinois politicians have a budget of $2 billion for mental health and drug abuse, but they won’t even help one kid.

“Everybody we go to see says you have to get him on the system for us to treat him. You ask him what the system is. Well, the state. Well, who at the state? There’s no one to go to, no one to talk to. You call them and they don’t get back to you.”

This isn’t new. Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh has been fighting for mental health services for adults for years. In 2013, he sent letters begging lawmakers to do something. None of three state representatives nor DHS could be reached for comment.

“I want them to pass the laws that need to be passed. When the court orders one of their institutions to do something and they blow off the court, I want them to go to the institution or that department and say, ‘No work, no ticky, no laundry.'”

But, if he’s not sent to an institution, Piraino says the state is putting people in danger. Piraino says DHS has been asked to come to court twice, but has never shown up.

If found guilty, the teenager can only be in juvenile detention until he’s 21. If he displays good behavior, he won’t serve his adult sentence.

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