On December 26, 2008, Armando Cruz was admitted to Mercy Hospital of Folsom following an attempted self-castration. He had “wrapped strips of sheets/shirts around base of scrotum and has been tightening them over the past three days because ‘I am on a mission,’” according to a Clinical Report by a physician who examined him.
Cruz would go on to say that he did it “to prove he was tougher then the voices.”
Housed alone in the PSU, he would participate in few groups. However, no disciplinary issues are noted in his documentation. On February 5, 2009, his custody was reduced from Max to Close Custody. His SHU term was suspended and he was allowed to participate in EOP Programming, which included more social interaction.
He would remain disciplinary free throughout much of 2009.
He was transferred back to Salinas Valley State Prison, being placed back in the Department of Mental Health, on September 29, 2009. The goal was to make him competent to stand trial for the January 18, 2008 incident in which he bit an officer. Within a month, on October 16, he would be cited for possession of dangerous contraband.
Two months later, he would participate in his first, and only, parole board hearing. The parole board noted that “Cruz has not been released from Discretionary Program Status (DPS) due to his erratic behavior and therefore, has not participated in any group activities.” The board also indicated that Cruz had spent some time before the board emphasizing that he wished to stay away from the El Cajon Dukes, a gang he had claimed he was a member of since his arrest, a claim his mother disputes.
On February 2, 2010, the board would deny parole for seven years, telling him he needed to stay disciplinary free and that he had not yet taken full responsibility for his actions.
Cruz would remain at Close Custody security until December 2010.
His mother believes that quietly, Cruz was agonizing over his February parole denial. “He thought that he would serve 8 years and come home,” she says.
He would have a cellmate for most of 2010, and remained relatively discipline free. In May 2010, he was transferred to Vacaville, at the California Medical Facility.
On July 27, 2010, a Department of Mental Health/Vacaville Psychiatric Program Discharge Summary indicated that he remained incompetent to stand trial. Quoting a court ordered psychological evaluation, the Discharge Summary reads “it was noted he has made some improvement since his last evaluation in that he is now aware of the charges against him whereas previously he was not…he is still experiencing psychotic and manic symptoms which interfere with his ability to be an effective participant in his own defense.”
Further, the report indicates that the nature of Cruz’s diagnosis of schizophrenia “often leads the patient to misinterpret reality and engage in behavior which may be dangerous to him or others. It is therefore recommended that the patient be transferred to a facility that can continue to provide further mental healthcare within a safe environment.”
The Discharge Summary cites a visit by family—his mother and his sister. He was reportedly “overjoyed on account of that” and indicated his desire to be “placed at a facility which could be closer to his family.” This would be the last contact visit. The last time that Cruz was able to hug and kiss his family.
At this time, Cruz was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, bipolar type. He also was noted to have hypothyroidism.
He would be discharged back to Salinas Valley State Prison, and then was sent back to CSP, Sacramento in the EOP program. The assault charge against him would be dropped in favor of administrative measures.
On September 27, he was admitted to the Mental Health Crisis Unit due to having bruising on his neck. According to a Mental Health Interdisciplinary Progress Note, “He reports (vaguely) a psychotic episode in which he was feeling tremendous pain in his neck and put his hands around his neck to stop the pain, causing bruising.”
In October, he was again admitted to the Mental Health Crisis Unit for “self-abuse by choking himself out.” It was noted that he has “chronic thoughts of impending doom and an internal feeling of senselessness…which he explains as a perception that everything in the world is dull and boring.”
While there, two psychologists evaluated him by request of the Mental Health Crisis Bed Interdisciplinary Treatment Team. Cruz was noted to have a fourth grade reading ability and indicated that a neurological examination might be necessary to determine if Cruz’s frequent self-asphyxiation has caused any brain injury. His attention was found to be in the “Profound Impairment” range. His memory, language, and executive functioning were also noted to be impaired.