One of the participants in the January 6 riots in the United States Capitol, Jacob Chansley, also known as QAnon Shaman, is in negotiations with prosecutors after prison psychologists found that he suffers from a wide variety from mental illness, her attorney said.
In an interview, defense attorney Albert Watkins said officials at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have diagnosed his client, Jacob Chansley, with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
The BOP’s findings, which have not yet been published, suggest that Chansley’s condition deteriorated due to the stress of being held in solitary confinement at the prison.
“As he spends more time in solitary confinement … the decline in his (mental) acuity was remarkable, even to the inexperienced eye,” Watkins said in an interview Thursday.
In addition, he maintained that Chansley’s mental health records from his time in the US Navy in 2006 show a diagnosis similar to that of BOP. However, spokesmen for the federal prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case.
Chansley is one of hundreds of prominent Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol after the then president, in a fierce speech, falsely claimed that his defeat in the November election was the result of electoral fraud.
Chansley, a native of Arizona, was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a horned headdress, shirtless and with tattoos. He is a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which presents Trump as a savior figure, and elite Democrats as a cabal of pedophiles and Satanist cannibals.
Following the assault on the government building, the man faces charges including civil disorder and obstruction of official procedure.
Watkins did not say what Chansley was considering pleading guilty to, but defendants who negotiate plea deals generally seek to allege a less serious charge, to reduce their possible prison sentences.
Watkins stressed that authorities will have to determine how Chansley can access the treatment he needs to “actively participate in his own defense.” Pleading guilty to a charge denies the need for a trial, but defendants must still be found mentally competent to do so.
Watkins said the BOP’s evaluation of his client did not declare Chansley mentally incompetent, and that he does not expect to be ordered to undergo what is known as “restoration of competence” treatment.
Watkins said his client has expressed some rambling, including “believing that he was, in fact, directly related to Jesus and Buddha.”
“What we’ve done is we’ve taken a guy that’s unarmed, harmless, peaceful, with significant pre-existing mental vulnerability, and we’ve turned him into a chocolate soup mess,” Watkins said.
Federal prosecutors arrested more than 535 people accused of participating in the violent acts, which include fighting police, breaking windows and causing members of Congress, and then-Vice President Mike Pence, to flee, seeking safety. of 20 defendants have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the attack, according to a government tally.
Chansley is incarcerated while awaiting trial, after prosecutors convinced a federal judge that he remains a danger if released. Federal District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered in May that he undergo a competence assessment.
As of July 5, he was one of 188 men and women undergoing an initial mental health assessment to determine if they were competent to stand trial, according to BOP data.
The Office, in 2017, was criticized by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice for the use of special housing units to confine inmates with mental illnesses, and it agreed to put limits on the time that inmates remain in such places, as well how to ensure that they have meaningful human services, such as contact.
However, the covid-19 pandemic led the BOP to intensify the use of these homes as a way to quarantine inmates to contain the spread of the virus. A spokeswoman for the Office said inmates are usually kept alone in a cell, but are not limited to contact or human services.
“While we have a need to place people in a single cell for various reasons, such as medical isolation, they have access to staff and programming,” he said. Covid-19 restrictions, Watkins said, were what led to the BOP to place Chansley in solitary confinement.
Seeking a mental competence assessment for a federal inmate can be a slippery slope for defense attorneys. For one thing, incompetent defendants cannot be prosecuted if they cannot understand the charges or help in their defense.
However, if a judge declares that there is a preponderance of evidence to show that a defendant is incompetent to stand trial, then the defendant is incarcerated because federal law requires inmates to undergo restorative treatment and be placed in a facility. federal prison hospital.
There are only three federal prison hospitals that offer restorative treatment for men, and the average wait time for a bed is 84 days on average, according to BOP data.