July 31, 2016

After the Radio Show Today, A Distraught Mother Shares Her Story About the Death of Her Mentally Ill Daughter

George's Note:
After hearing me on syndicated columnist Bobby Rodrigo's radio show, I Take Liberty With My Coffee (LINK), Alvina S. Harris sent me this email that she gave me permission to blog. I've taken the liberty of editing it slightly.

Hi George,

On 12/13/13, my 36-year-old mentally ill daughter, Shanike Miller, was in jail in Leon County, Fl, for allegedly stealing from CVS. She was given the psych drug Tegretol, which caused acute liver failure that resulted in her death. Corizon Health gave her the medication. When my daughter was transferred to Shands Hospital, Corizon Health told doctors my daughter was a possible O.D. (overdose) inmate and that she took Tylenol which caused liver damage. I buried my daughter thinking she'd taken her own life; Corizon doctors would not talk to me about what happened to her.

Months later after I got autopsy report, that's when I found out about all the psych drugs they were giving my mentally ill daughter, who according to their nurse's notes, "was hearing voices" in her cell, but they deemed her stable enough to consent to drugs that could possibly cause death. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to investigate and so has Senator Bill Nelson. 2 ½ years later, I still have no answers or justice for my daughter. I was very very close to my daughter, I talked to her all the time, she was loved by many, many, many people. If something like this could happen to my daughter and get covered up, imagine what is happening to all the other homeless people or people who have no families looking out for them.

My daughter was mentally ill, she repeatedly came into contact with the police, we always bailed her out. I was afraid the police were going to hurt my daughter while arresting her because of her mental illness and her aggressiveness while she was manic, so I decided not to bail her out. I thought she’d be safe in jail until we could get her into a hospital. I never thought in a million years something like this could happen to my daughter—I thought I was keeping her safe. On December 6, 2013, a psychiatrist, Dr. Leland, evaluated my daughter and his report to the public defender was to have her hospitalized. The public defender said she never saw the report; 10 days later my daughter is medically injured by Corizon Health doctors and dies a week and half later.

Finally, my mentally ill daughter, Shanike Miller, was given the death sentence for stealing out of CVS by Leon County Jail and Corizon Healthand it was sanctioned by Governor Rick Scott because no one has been punished and there has been no justice for my daughter.

Alvina S. Harris

George's Note:
Here is a follow-up email from Alvina that provides more clarity into the no-win decisions parents often face in dealing with their mentally ill children. I tracked down this propaganda directly from Corizon's website:


Alvina - Yes you may (blog my email). I want my daughter’s story told, I want justice for my daughter. I’ve been in a deep depression since my daughter died and every day I feel so much guilt and shame—I let my daughter down.  Yes, she was 36, an adult and my only child, but I still felt very responsible for her. I still feel responsible for her even though she’s not here anymore. The last few conversations I had with my daughter while she was in jail were about her going into a hospital to get stabilized. She asked, "Mom, do you really think I need to go into a mental hospital?" I said, "Yes Nikkie, you do, trust me, I love you, you need help and I will be there making sure you’re OK."  

Thursday, December 13, 2013, I told my daughter I was coming to see her the following weekend. I was going to bail her out and get her other warrants lifted—she had a few due to stealing. One week later, Thursday, December 19, 2013, the Leon County Sheriff called me and told me my daughter was in the hospital. My husband and I rushed to Tallahassee from Ft. Lauderdale, then to Shands Hospital. My daughter never woke up and died a week and half later.  Even worse, I buried my daughter thinking she’d taken her own life, because Corizon Health said she may have taken an overdose of Tylenol, which was not the case—it was the psych drugs according to the medical examiner. I thought I was keeping my daughter safe and trying to help her, instead in some way, I feel like I contributed to her death by trying to show her “tough love” by not bailing her out until she consented and agreed to take her medication and to be hospitalized.

People want to dispute the “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” slogans. Well, “Mentally Ill Lives Matter;” no color or race is involved as mental illness does not discriminate.  Mentally ill people are the most vulnerable and most times can’t speak for themselves.

My mentally ill 36-year-old daughter was given a death sentence by Leon County Jail and Corizon Health and sanctioned by Governor Rick Scott. I’m going to keep saying that because it’s what I believe.

1 comment:

  1. Alvina, I am so terribly sorry for the loss of your daughter. It's so hard to know what to do to help our children when they suffer from mental illness. Do we keep on bailing them out, or do we let them sit? It's impossible to know. One thing I know for sure is that you did the very best you could. You tried in every way you knew how to help your daughter. No words can possibly heal your pain, but I just wanted to let you know from one mom to another that I know you did your best to protect your girl. Big gentle hugs from me to you.


Thanks for leaving a comment!

George Mallinckrodt