My name is Norma and I am creating this Gofundme for my son Yahel McDaniel. Yahel is presently incarcerated and has been since November 21, 2019.
Yahel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 15 years old. My husband Gary and I did not understand the severity of the disorder until we watched our son’s life turn inside out. As much as we tried to love him through it, Yahel struggled mightily for years to gain balance in his life, including visits in and out of mental institutions. His symptoms quickly overwhelmed us. If you are not familiar with this disorder, let me share a few things about it. I am not a mental health professional, just a mom that has witnessed the devastating effects of bipolar disorder on my son. He is plagued with anxiety, restlessness, and tension that robs him of peace and ability to cope. He began to run away, he left for weeks and we had no idea where he was or that he was alive. Impulsiveness and restlessness have cost him so many losses throughout his life, such as jobs and relationships. Yahel was a good boy and now a good man and it is crushing to see him in either mania or depression. When manic, he seems so hopeful and full of plans to turn it around, but we know it won’t last long. Then depression dashes all hope and he becomes full of deep sadness, despair, and an inability to leave the bed. Talk of suicide is the most heartbreaking because we never know when it will become more than talk. Someone told me that people with bipolar disorder have a risk of suicide FIVE time greater than anyone else. This is why the idea of him in prison for years rocks me to the core. I am so worried that he may not have the emotional strength to survive it. I want, with all my heart for my son to get help, not be punished for having such a difficult disorder, he had nothing to do with. Severe punishment cannot be how a civilized society responds to the mentally ill.
As you may know people with bipolar disorder often abuse alcohol or drugs, mistakenly thinking that drugs or alcohol help their symptoms – but it only makes things worse. Yahel is no different and used illegal drugs to cope. He is not a good judge of character and has been hanging around with people that use and only pulled him down. For instance, his last relationship was with a woman, recently out of prison, who not only used drugs but incited his worst impulses. He was with her when arrested. Yahel is not a saint, he has made some bad decisions - but he has not been in trouble before, this is his first offense.
I am humbly reaching out to anyone that understands this kind of disorder. He is in jail because while under the influence, he went on a wild rampage of criminology, which I can only imagine is a combination of drug abuse, lack of sleep, his disorder, and a variety of significant triggers from a police chase and arrest. Yahel The criminal justice system is trying to put him away for a very long, time. It is clear from the plea deal offered that they are not considering he has never had prior convictions as an adult or even a juvenile record. The court appointed attorney has limited time and resources, so he is not going to launch a defense, he represents only and by law that Yahel had counsel at his disposal. Yahel does not deserve to have the book thrown at him, he needs to be remanded to a good mental health and drug treatment program. My son needs serious help, not to be locked up. He has already spent 400 days in county jail without a trial and he is not doing well because he does is not getting treatment only triggers. I fear for his life.
The retainer fee for an attorney is enormous. The attorney wants $25, 000 dollars up front. It may as well be 4 times that, because my husband and I cannot help him. I am unemployed due to battling cancer over the last 3 years and Gary is blind. We have no taxable income between us. We are living month to month.
Anyone who knows Yahel can truly say he is a great person with a huge heart. He is not a violent individual, but he needs drug treatment and mental health services to help him manage his life, he doesn’t need to go away to prison for a long time Please, please help me help my son. Yahel, though has gone about it all wrong, only seeks what we all seek, lasting friendships, and a family of his own someday. He does not need to go to prison, he just needs help. I pray that the Almighty in heaven would touch your heart and I pray that you hold out your hand of compassion in this time of need.
Thank you from my heart.
- Jo Ellen Gandy
- Bradish Children
- Shannon Beehm
- Abiyah McDaniel
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