State Senator Will Longwitz issued the following press release. The press release also contains a letter by Governor Phil Byrant that was addressed to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health concerning the Oxford House program.
Yesterday, Governor Phil Bryant issued a strongly worded letter calling on the Mississippi Department of Mental Health to end its financial support of Oxford House Inc. Senator Will Longwitz, who began the inquiry into Oxford House and its practices in Mississippi, says, "I thank Governor Bryant for taking a stand on this important issue. This is a major step towards doing the right thing for all Mississippians."
Some excerpts from Gov. Bryant's letter to MS Dept. of Mental Health (MDMH) Executive Director Diana Mikula:
"The information provided by state lawmakers, members of the community, and your department over the past month raises serious questions about the mission of Oxford House Inc. and the long-term viability of the "Oxford House" model in Mississippi. The interests of the recovering substance abusers who reside in these homes - as well as Mississippians in general - would be better served if changes are made."
"The Department of Mental Health should end its financial support of Oxford House Inc. and its outreach workers. Oxford House Inc. has been more focused on expanding its footprint in Mississippi than on providing the time, peer support and living environment necessary to support long-term recovery for existing residents. Group homes can be an effective tool in promoting recovery and ongoing sobriety, but Oxford House Inc's aggressive expansion tactics are not good for the recovering substance abusers they purport to serve or the community-at-large."
"Finally, I am dismayed to learn that Oxford House Inc. outreach workers have been targeting jails to recruit new residents. The Department of Mental Health should not be financing an out-of-state company's unsanctioned effort to establish an unregulated prisons-to-homes program." (emphasis mine)