State Senator Will Longwitz issued this press release and exhibits about the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and Oxford House:
State Sen. Will Longwitz (R-Madison) today questioned the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the State Board of Mental Health at their monthly meeting in Ellisville. Longwitz asked the State Board why, in the face of damning evidence of multiple failures, they continue to fund and defend Maryland-based Oxford House, Inc.
“I have found evidence that Oxford House made material misrepresentations on federal loan documents, and I have shown these facts to the State Board. Thus far, they have refused to act,” said Longwitz.
“I have shown that the Department and the State Board are not doing their job administering federal tax money or holding Oxford House accountable. They are allowing Oxford House to run roughshod over the residents of my district, and I have no reason to believe they are operating any different anywhere else in the state.”
“I hope the Department and the State Board will, in the end, remember for whom they work. They work for the people of Mississippi and for the taxpayers, not for an out-of-state organization based in Maryland.”
In his letter (The letter is posted below) and in his remarks, Longwitz pointed out that the Department and the State
• Failed to hold Oxford House to its own rules and regulations to help people recover.
• Opened new Oxford Houses before the existing houses reach capacity, in violation of federal law.
• Failed to screen residents for convicted sex offenders.
• Disregarded Oxford House’s material misrepresentations on federal loan applications.
• Failed to require Oxford House to repay federal loans as required by their contract.
• Ignored evidence of relapses by Oxford House residents, and allowed Oxford House employees to cover up such relapses.
• Failed to show evidence of drug testing of residents.
• Failed to show evidence of testing residents for alcohol use.
“I value any chance to serve the district I represent in the State Senate. But it is simply inappropriate that the Department of Mental Health is relying on me to serve as their full-time Inspector General,” Longwitz continued. “I still hold out hope that they will do what Governor Phil Bryant demanded and cut ties with Oxford House, Inc. of Maryland. We have better ways to house and treat people in recovery. They and the citizens and taxpayers of Mississippi deserve better.”
This is the letter Mr. Longwitz read to the board in his presentation today:
Kingfish note: Video of the appearance before the board and a short response from two board members will be posted as soon as it is uploaded. Board member Rick Barry told the Senator that the board will review his letter and ensure that MDMH is doing what it said it is supposed to do.