Cycle of Mental Health: The Galvan family story

Cycle of Mental Health: The Galvan family story

HARMON COUNTY, OK (KSWO) - Caught up in an endless cycle within the courts. A family in Harmon County is at a loss on how to help their family member who suffers from mental illness get out of that cycle. But this family isn't alone.

Linda Galvan's son Valeriano Galvan is spending his days in a mental health facility.

"I just come and go to work every day just to forget about everything that's going on," said Linda.

Back in January, police say Galvan was arrested for stealing a pick up, and trying to run over a deputy. His family says this was hours after he was released from jail on a misdemeanor charge.

He, his mother and brother stopped at a gas station before heading home.

"My mom went in to pay gas, I pumped," said James Galvan, Valeriano's brother. "And he walked across saying I'm going to go get that car, that pick up that Dodge. It's got the keys in there waiting for me."

According to court records, Galvan was determined incompetent, and was court ordered to the facility to regain competency.

Court records show this isn't Galvan's first run-in with the law. But the family says he has suffered from mental illness for many years, and usually is the source of his issues. Court records show he was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar type in 2013. His family says they have tried to take him to hospitals and facilities since his diagnosis. They either do not have the money or Galvan does not stay long enough to get better.

Galvan's mother says he will have intense mood swings. Some causing him to get violent with the ones who love him the most.

"Then after a while I couldn't handle him, and I didn't want for him to do something worse," said Linda. "So, I'm the one who called the cops on him and put him in jail. The first time. And the second time."

Former Comanche County prosecutor Eddie Valdez in his 30 years experience says he has seen other families like the Galvans. Mainly with people who have a hard time getting on a path to recovery.

"In that case, it does become a case of they're in and they're out they're in and they're out," said Valdez. "And nothing ever really seems to benefit them much."

He says sometimes the reason for that is because it's not the court's role to treat them.

In the first appearance before a judge, the courts want to know if you understand what you are charged with, and the consequences of those charges.

"The court really is only mainly concerned in whether you're competent or not," said Valdez. "If they have determined that you're incompetent, then they can't prosecute you. Now, there are lots of people walking around town with all kinds of different mental illnesses out there that aren't deemed to be incompetent. I mean, they are still competent, and they still know the different between right and wrong. Except for whatever reason they make bad decisions. It's those bad decisions that result in them being locked up or being arrested."

Valdez says people with a mental illness like Galvan's can be in and out of jail for non-violent crimes for years.

But in some cases, he says it takes only one violent action to get a reaction from the public.

"You almost have to wait for something bad to happen in order for something really serious to happen to this person," said Valdez "Unfortunately, that sometimes results in someone getting hurt or even killed."

Valdez says the courts use a statute to determine competency.

Valdez explained it's an evaluation by a doctor along with those questions.

If you or your family have a similar experience with mental illness and the criminal justice system, contact 7NEW reporter Allie Haddican through email at or message her Facebook page here.

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