Free man held illegally behind bars - News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Free man held illegally behind bars

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Billy Welbert has done his time after being arrested for criminal mischief and assault and spending time behind bars for escaping from the Department of Mental Health and assaulting several staffers there.  He should have been let out back in June.

Department of Corrections Director J.B Palacios said, "He's not an inmate, he's not a detainee, he's not an arrestee, he's a free man."  So what's such a person doing behind bars? Apparently, it's the same question DepCor officials are asking. Today Palacios filed a declaration with Mental Health Court Judge Steven Unpingco, informing him of Welbert's situation.

Even though Welbert's a free man, Palacios says his agency can't release him.  "Because the judge says we have to hold him. Until Mental Health finds a treatment facility off-island for him," the director explained.  "Mental Health is not ready to accept him or for whatever reason they don't feel he belongs at Mental Health."

Welbert pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness and should be receiving treatment at mental health not incarcerated at DepCor.  "The management team at Mental Health is not ensuring that he receives the care from their staff daily," Palacios said, adding, "It's cruel because he's in a correctional facility being incarcerated. His movements are being restricted. He's being treated as an inmate when he should be receiving care as a patient."

Welbert has informed DepCor officials that he is being held against his will and even though family members are ready to get him the help he needs, unfortunately it appears this free man will remain a prisoner of the system until the mental health court takes action.

Calls to the federal management team for comment were not returned as of news time.


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