Denton County Jail, Denton, Texas
Wanda Quaglia’s story highlights the ways that jails fail the mentally ill – and the dangerous practice of releasing people in the dead of night. Wanda, who suffers from schizophrenia, was held and not provided psychiatric treatment or medicine from September 22nd to October 15th in Denton County Jail. Like many others, she was unaccountably released at 2 am, with no destination, car, money or phone. Nighttime jail release is an inhumane practice, especially for women who are released in areas they do not know, with no resources and no ability to get to safety.
This statement is from her sister Michelle H., who is pictured on the phone below, trying to get help for Wanda.
We have been going through the legal system now for the last 15 years trying to get Wanda help.
Recently, she was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital to the psychiatric unit for evaluation due to her obvious illness. She was not escorted inside by an officer and so instead of getting evaluated, she left and walked away. This is what she does: she walks and wanders for miles, days, weeks.
I finally found her in a motel and I called Denton County police officers to pick her up for her safety, and in hopes of getting her back on meds. She was held in jail there in Denton from September 22nd until October 15th at 2 a.m. but they did nothing to help her.
After numerous calls that I placed throughout the month to Denton County Jail medical ward and both parole officers, I never had a return call. I left messages for someone to please call me for more crucial information concerning her. She is unable to function without medication or on her own.
It became worse after 2004 when she was found beaten and raped and left for dead with a piece of plywood over her in a apartment complex. She was in a coma for almost a year and has permanent brain damage due to anoxia.
I found out Thursday morning September 22nd that she was released from Denton County on foot with no money, no ride. No phone was call made to the family to pick her up. She was expected to get to halfway house in Fort Worth at 2am in the morning, all on her own.
She has not had medication for over a month. She could be a danger to herself or others. It's so sad but instead of committing her, they keep setting her free, she doesn’t take her meds and ends up walking off. And I know she's not alone. One of many.
Ten days later, Wanda was found in Sulphur Springs; she had evidently walked some 92 miles from Denton. Since then, her sister reports that Wanda has been hospitalized, released and then wandered until she was jailed again.