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Should mentally disordered individuals receive prison time? - Valdo Calocane's story

On September 4, 1991, Valdo Calocane, also known as Adam Mendes, was born in Guinea-Bissau. When he was roughly three years old, his family relocated to Madeira and then when he was eight years old, his peers moved to Lisbon, Portugal. At the age of sixteen, he travelled to the UK in 2007 with his family.

His education was "largely uneventful," the prosecution at Nottingham Crown Court claimed. The court was informed that he decided to not take the A-Levels because he believed in his incapability to receive the necessary grades. Rather, he was employed as a worker or housekeeper. Calocane, however, returned to school and completed a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Nottingham, earning his degree in June 2022.

He was thirty years old when he was brought to court for being kicked out of his student apartment after hitting his roommates in the Lenton neighborhood of the city. According to defence attorney Peter Joyce KC, his client's mental condition began in 2019.

Also, his brother Elias Calocane, informed investigators that when his brother was pursuing his degree, he was aware of his mental health issues. Anti-psychotic medicines were prescribed to him, but he stopped taking them, causing his mental state to deteriorate rapidly.


It was because of his severe state of Paranoid Schizophrenia, Calocane repeatedly attacked people in public places. Following the death of three people, instead of assigning him for mental assessment, the NHS never cared to assess his situation.


Additionally, Assistant Chief Constable Rob Gryphon of Nottinghamshire Police stated, "We ought to have taken more action to apprehend him."

The families of Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace Malley-Kumar expressed their anger after triple killer Valdo Calocane was given the judgment under section 37 hospital order, where the court ordered shifting the offender to the mental asylum.


The Nottingham attacks 

Ian Coates, 65, and 19-year-olds Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar were stabbed on June 13 2024. Mr. Coates was discovered dead in Magdala Road from knife wounds sustained after his van was stolen. Mr. Webber and Ms. O'Malley-Kumar, two University of Nottingham students, were tragically killed in Ilkeston Road just after 4:00 PM BST.


"True justice has not been served," according to the mother of Mr. Webber. She claimed that Rob Gryphon, the assistant chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, had "blood in his hands' ' because the police force had not taken Calocane into custody despite an arrest warrant being issued for him in September 2022 for an alleged attack on a police officer.


Is it fair to admit a criminal in the hospital rather than prison?


According to the sentencing council, the legal rights of mentally disturbed people are outlined in the Mental Health Act. This law permits the hospital to admit, hold, and treat a patient for a mental illness without the patient's consent. The statute exists to protect people with mental health difficulties who may occasionally risk their life or others. According to the Nottinghamshire Police, Calocane satisfied the requirements of the Mental Health Act, limiting his detentions.


In 2007, according to the NHS of Southwest Yorkshire partnership, the Mental Health Act of 1983 underwent revisions to guarantee that those receiving services are given the necessary care and are undertaken through professionals in a well-defined framework within which to operate. As society develops, more people encounter complicated circumstances in their personal lives. However, does this imply that they should be imprisoned for circumstances beyond their control?


Mr. Five Mualimm-aks story “the other side of the coin

In an interview with TheGrio posted on YouTube, Mr. Five Mualimm-ak, a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia patient, states that he spent a total of 12 years in prisons, county facilities, and upstate, including time spent in solitary confinement. He mentioned that he taught religious services, worked in school buildings, and was a block porter, all of which kept him constantly in manic mode.

As someone with bipolar disorder, he had deep episodes of depression, and in prison, you can't do that without dying or falling victim to a hole , he exacerbated in the interview. Due to his solitary confinement experience, his schizophrenia & bipolar disorder made him hyper-sensitive to the things around him and he would go as far as cutting his hand just to receive medical attention. He also mentions that there is no “medical assessment” in prison which means that there is no treatment and you are left in limbo, not being taken seriously or just seen as “crazy”


Suicide rates have gone up in England and Wales alone, since the Ministry of Justice released its numbers of the year 2022–2023 , report on September 18. The following are the report's main statistics about prisons:

1. Between 2022 and 2023, the number of self-inflicted deaths grew from 70 to 88.

2. The number of self-harm episodes per 1,000 prisoners has climbed from 684 to 733.

3. The number of inmates incarcerated has grown by 5,192, reaching 85,851, surpassing the 82,759 operational capacity.


Suicide is a complicated problem, but it is rarely caused by a single factor. The main causes of this in Britain's jails include overcrowding, infestations of vermin, and inadequate facilities for education and retraining.


Environmental factors, mental wellbeing, external stimuli and access to both physical and mental health care all contribute to an increased suicide risk which are affecting those who are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable across the intersections of race, gender, disability and class.


This is not to say that Calocane does deserve the worst punishment, but jail is not a place for the mentally disordered as he could potentially be at risk of re-offending others, even in prison. He needed help and the NHS, and the police failed him. 


Watching Mr Fives’s  interview helped me to understand mental illness through his experience. Many mentally disordered individuals need urgent medical help, and you cannot get immediate support in prison. There is no denying that Calocane murdered three innocent individuals, but the authorities were unavailable for him. He should have received medical attention from the time he committed his first crime. Instead, it took 3 killings for his case to be taken seriously.


My love and support go out to the families of the Nottingham attacks, but the lack of timely mental health assessment led Calocane to murder three innocent individuals. I believe it is foul, as to experience this type of pain must be soul-wrenching for the families who were failed by the authorities of the country. This needs to change.


Photo source: Pinterest

Editor: Jaya Jha

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