Home

Welcome to the website for Andrew’s V.O.I.C.E:  Victory Over Involuntary Commitment Excesses. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to reform of mental health laws and treatment.

Andrew’s Story

On January 11, 2019, the world lost a kind, gentle beautiful soul: Andrew Jeffrey Rich. His story is yet another example of how profit-driven forced commitment and involuntary medication crushes the mind and spirit of the most vulnerable among us.

Andrew Rich
Andrew Rich

Andrew was a bright, happy, creative, charming person who captured our hearts from the moment of his birth on January 28, 1989. He was generous to a fault, always ready to give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. One of his last acts was to purchase a cheeseburger for a friend with the $2 remaining in his wallet. Andrew was a true empath—one who could apprehend the mental or emotional state of others, and whose sensitivity made him vulnerable to the world’s slights and unkindness. Andrew felt and loved deeply; and taught us that those who love the most, suffer the most. He leaves behind many, many loving friends and family members whose lives are richer for having known him.

Andrew struggled with opiod addiction for many years. His family supported him, and celebrated with him when he reached a milestone of five years of being opioid-free in May of 2018. Unfortunately, our legal system was not helpful or supportive of Andrew’s needs. In 2013, he was prosecuted for being a drug addict, and saddled with a felony conviction for possession of a very small amount of heroin. The collateral consequences of this conviction robbed him of his future. County prosecutors argued against expunging his record, meaning that serving time for the offense was not enough—rather, he was to serve a life sentence that included forever denials of educational, housing and occupational opportunities. He was understandably despondent regarding his circumstances.

Following a breakdown in May of 2017, Andrew was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. At that point, he entered the broken mental health care and mental health legal system in Wisconsin. At the time of his breakdown, he was tased multiple times and nearly killed; “chemically restrained” with 400 mg of Ketamine (a/k/a angel dust–a recreational dose is .1-.3 mg); rejected admission (unlawfully) at three psychiatric hospitals; and ultimately thrown into an isolation cell at the County Detention Center—treatment known to have lifetime detrimental effects for the most sensitive among us. He spent time confined in a state-operated, lock-down mental institution, where he reported that he was subjected to inhumane treatment and unlawful restraints. Andrew’s complaints of inhumane treatment in June of 2017 were ignored. Just seven months later, State inspectors issued 48 citations to the facility following an investigation in response to the death of a patient/inmate.  Following Andrew’s release, he was assigned to a County-appointed doctor who spent only a few minutes with him every few months (at most). He was involuntarily medicated with drugs that were not monitored and which were adjusted only once in a one-and-one-half year period. His complaints about debilitating side effects were ignored. Just a few weeks before his death, his family asked that they, along with Andrew, be allowed to select his doctor and monitor his treatment, telling the Court that the family, not the County and its taxpayers, should be responsible for this. That request was denied. Andrew was beaten down, hopeless and depressed as a result of this infringement on his civil liberties.

We can and must do better than this. It is our hope that Andrew’s tragic passing will serve to raise awareness of the significant defects in how our government handles criminal cases involving people who use drugs and the mentally ill, as well as how involuntary civil commitments are handled. It is, literally, a matter of life and death.

Andrew’s V.O.I.C.E., Inc. is a nonprofit organization that advocates for reform of the mental health laws and mental health treatments that are failing so many people like Andrew. #wecanandmustdobetter

Blog

Handcuffs for People in Mental Health Crisis are Just Plain Wrong

I’ve linked to an article below about how a now-fired police officer hand-cuffed two six-year-olds, in separate incidents, and hauled them off to jail to be booked, complete with mug shots and fingerprinting. Um, what??? This treatment of first graders acting out at school in the form of temper tantrums is astoundingly inappropriate–yet not uncommon. …

Our First Conference Exhibit

We are exhibiting at the NARPA (National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy) Conference this weekend in Hartford, CT. Lots of great seminars here, including William Brooks, J.D. on “Enforcing Rights Against Forced Treatment Through Damages Actions;” Susan Stefan, J.D., “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about EMTLA;” Lee Coleman, M.D., “Better Education of Attorneys …

Exposure to Beneficial Microbes in Soil Benefits Mental Health–So Let’s Make a New Drug

The theory explained in this article is that as humans moved away from hunter/gatherer and agrarian lifestyles, they lost contact with beneficial organisms that helped to regulate immune systems and suppress inflammation. That, according to Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry, “has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.” Researchers at …

Contact

Address
Andrew’s Voice, Inc.
Jake’s Café
529 Ontario Ave
Sheboygan, WI 53081

Contact
920.892.2828
advocate@andrewsvoice.org