Trouble in Mind

Trouble in Mind is a six-part series exploring the intersections of the mental health and criminal justice systems in Texas. It examines the case of Andre Thomas, a death row inmate who began exhibiting signs of mental illness as a boy and committed a brutal triple murder in 2004. Blind because he pulled out both of his eyes while behind bars, Thomas awaits a federal court's decision on whether he is sane enough to be executed. This story is part of a collaboration with Texas Monthly magazine. Read the long-form narrative tale of the Andre Thomas case here.

Todd Wiseman / Matt Rainwaters

Andre Thomas: Questions of Competence, Justice

Andre Thomas had ripped out his own eye after a long history of mental instability when he was found competent to stand trial and was later sentenced to death. His case raises critical questions about how the justice system deals with mentally ill defendants and whether they should be exempt from the death penalty.

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Andre Thomas: A Struggle for Sanity Behind Bars

Andre Thomas is among thousands of mentally ill inmates in a sprawling state prison system that is struggling to keep pace with the increasing need for mental health care. Medical staff say they need more state funding, and some lawmakers want the prison system to adopt policies that may help alleviate some inmates’ mental health problems.

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Andre Thomas: Gaps in the Mental Health Code

Twice in the two weeks before he committed a horrifying triple murder, medical staff sought to have Andre Thomas detained, worried his psychosis made him dangerous. But hospitals don't have authority to detain people who voluntarily enter their facilities. Reform advocates say that's one of many holes in the state’s nearly 30-year-old mental health code.

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Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Andre Thomas: Services Scarce for Troubled Youth

During his troubled adolescence, lawyers for death row inmate Andre Thomas say he never received the mental health care that might have prevented the triple murder he later committed. There are few tools in place in Texas to help diagnose and treat youths who suffer from mental illness, particularly in rural communities like the one where Thomas grew up.

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Graphic by Todd Wiseman / Matt Rainwaters / Austin Postcards

Andre Thomas: The Mentally Ill, From Asylums to Jails

Texas has a long, unhappy history when it comes to mental health care. From the days of state-run asylums to the underfunded local mental health services of today, those with mental illness have faced daunting challenges finding treatment. 

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Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Andre Thomas: Where Mental Health and Criminal Justice Collide

The case of mentally ill death row inmate Andre Thomas offers a lens through which to examine the effects of a long underfunded mental health system. As the now-blind 29-year-old awaits a court decision on his execution, the case also raises important questions about how Texas punishes the mentally ill. 

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