Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Sid Salter: Jailing Mental Patients is an Old Problem that Remains "Unacceptable" in Mississippi

 Mississippi remains the focus of a 2016 U.S. Justice Department lawsuit which alleges, among other things, that the state “violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) by failing to provide adults with mental illness with necessary integrated, community-based mental health services.”

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule on aspects of the case within months.

The federal complaint alleged “that gaps and weaknesses in the state’s mental health system too often subject adults with mental illness to needless trauma, especially during a crisis.  According to the complaint, adults with mental illness who experience a crisis in Mississippi often spend days in local emergency rooms and jail holding facilities that are ill-equipped to address their needs, before ultimately being transported to the state’s psychiatric hospitals.” 

A recent Mississippi House committee heard testimony regarding the current state of the state’s mental health system, including a report from a federal court-appointed monitor that on average in this state, 25 mental patients are housed in jails awaiting mental health hospital treatment. Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan testified that the mental health system “is broken” and that jails are not equipped to take care of the mentally ill.

This isn’t a new problem. I remember over 30 years ago visiting the Scott County Jail to observe mentally ill individuals housed in the jail by court order whose only crime was being mentally ill. One muscular young man sat on a bare metal bunk, biting on a clenched dirty towel as tears rolled down his cheeks – hopeless, frightened and bereft. The reason? No treatment beds in the state mental hospitals were available.

It's not as if the taxpayers of Mississippi lack compassion for the issue. Mississippi taxpayers have already paid to construct seven crisis mental health centers to help alleviate this problem.

Each of those centers could have taken 16 mental patients out of the county jail cells where they languish untreated after being committed to state custody in the Chancery Courts for mental health treatment. In some cases, mental patients remained incarcerated for as long as six weeks in solitary confinement until bed space opens up at a state or private mental health facility.

As authorized by Senate Bill 3119 and signed into law in 1999, state legislators spent almost $2.4 million each to build the seven crisis mental health centers. The centers are designed to give counties a proper place to house prospective mental patients who had been committed to one of the state mental hospitals for treatment.

The legislation provided construction money for centers in Batesville, Brookhaven, Laurel, Grenada, Newton, Cleveland and Corinth. The centers were constructed, but by 2009, former Gov. Haley Barbour recommended closing six of the seven crisis mental health centers before the shine was off the tile floors of the new buildings. Budget problems, he argued. And the centers closed. In 2016 and 2017, lawmakers cut some $18.3 million in mental health system funding.

Mississippi is still housing mental patients in jail in 2022.

In a speech to the Starkville Rotary Club last week, State Department of Mental Health Executive Director Wendy Bailey admitted that mental patients should not be jailed and that “diversion” to community mental health facilities and other alternatives was the agency’s goal. She said MDMH has made discernible progress in recent years in reducing wait times for mental health crisis intervention and answering and managing emergency calls.

Legislators will have a chance to debate the expansion of a pilot court liaison officer system to help corral and focus existing mental health resources which Bailey said would be helpful.

Bailey seems sincere in her zeal to improve the system. I know there are legislators who understand and who care – along with judges and sheriffs. But I also recall long ago when a legislator said I was “overstating the problem” and that jailing a mental patient was “for his own good.”

As I told that gentleman and as I’ve written countless times over the years, if the person languishing in that jail cell awaiting mental health treatment was our son or daughter, he or she would not be cloaked in the political ambivalence and anonymity that has left this disgrace unaddressed for decades. We can, we should do better as citizens.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at   



Anonymous said...

Well all “mental disorders” are merely demon possession. Sinners welcome demons and are themselves servants of Lucifer. Therefore, mental illness is self-inflicted!

Anonymous said...

Actions speak louder than words... especially in Mississippi - where lack of action aptly applies more so. The entire Mississippi Legislature (and many more in the Executive Branch) is and are full of Christian racists who are attempting to genocide the poor in Mississippi to consolidate their power and hidden money channels - all cloaked through complicit auditors, willfully ignorant attorney generals, and BS boards and councils as layers of extra measure.

The entire state of Mississippi is one big Civil Rights case - every system of "service" is underfunded by design - to eliminate the poor from the landscape.

The "actions" of the Legislature (and thieves in the Executive Branch) over the last two decades say it loud and clear, and federal intervention is long overdue.

Hope KF will post this, because it needs to be said.

I get it said...

But, we need to eliminate the income tax and make the state better more attractive and display our "Mississippi values."

Anonymous said...

Why does he bother describing a person as “muscular” or their gender, but won’t include their skin, hair, or eye color? I don’t get the point?

Anonymous said...

Ole Sid would love nothing more that every violent offender to t be labeled as “mentally ill”

I have worked on the front line with these type of people and I can tell you that while they may have issues (mostly from alcohol and drug abuse), they are mostly still criminals, committing criminal acts.

Sid doesn’t tell us in his story why the guy in Scott County jail was in there. He acts as if the guy was rounded up and locked away for no reason. Sid has a way of telling one-sides stories.

Sid acts like “the system” failed these people. No. Their families, churches, and communities did.

What a liberal joke.

Anonymous said...

I agree.
But, the sad fact is that "treatment" centers are a revolving door.
First, it's hard to get a patient committmented who isn't willing.
Secondly, once they are stabilized on medication,they are released.
Without supervision, and even supervision by relatives can be sabotaged by just leaving the premises.
We no longer provide permanent care for those who cannot function without or cooperate with supervision.
Judges are apparently extremely ignorant about mental illness and other brain disorders.
Many of these mass murderers would have been permanent residences of mental institutionsin 1972. They would help at the facility and be educated and trained to do the tasks they could carry out while on meds.
I know with certainty that one very violent former patient is always 2 pills away from trying to kill "demons". That person has a church. And, we have elected more than a few who show obviously symptoms of mental illness.
Arrogant politicians thought they could use fear to motivate support. It never occurred to them they were agitating the mentally ill and giving credibility to the delusional thinking of someone like Alex Jones.
Nor did they contemplate how sociopaths would be empowered.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Hannibal Lecter was also a mental patient. Being raped or murdered by a mental patient is no better than by a sane person, you’re still violated or dead. Sid, you’re still a moron.

Anonymous said...

@9:20am Judges are extremely ignorant of a lot of goings on.... again, by design. Except for a few, the judges in Mississippi (including the Supreme Court idiots) are complicit in the genocide. It's all one club. They claim they need "more information" but it's a well-formed pattern of allowing the civil rights violations to continue for so long.

Anonymous said...

The alternative is to let them roam the streets and become the homeless population. Not sure if we are doing them any favors.

Anonymous said...

The government needs to discipline criminals for their behavior rather than trying to figure out why the criminal broke the law. And let the punishment be applied universally---without regard to the criminal's wealth, political standing, gender, or race. And they should serve their full sentence with 0 chance of parole.

Do that and you would not have crime like you see in Jackson.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime.....the FIRST word you see printed on most law enforcement vehicles and other material is the work PROTECT!!! First the law abiding public must be protected from anyone who would do us harm. After that is accomplished through arrest and containment of some sort, then all of the humane treatment and curative work begins and by qualified personnel......and not until the public is PROTECTED from those who would harm us. Let the law enforcement do their job and then deal with the person or persons to help them....FIRST help the people getting raped, murdered, robbed or otherwise harassed by PROTECTing us as you are charged to do!!!!

Anonymous said...

@12:02 PM
I live in Rankin County and none of those words are on any law enforcement vehicle in this entire county.

However, they all say… In God We Trust

Anonymous said...

I don't care how "mentally ill" some violent sociopath is or why. Just warehouse him where he is not a menace to society.

We all have imperfect parents and rough patches in our lives to resolve without becoming a violent savage.

Anonymous said...

Many decades ago, the country shifted from institutionalizing mental patients to allowing them to integrate into society. That policy placed the mentally ill into mainstream. Thus, some of the mentally ill commit crimes and some become incarcerated.
Do we agree it may be time to revisit the policy of institutionalizing these folks?

Anonymous said...

Send ‘em to Sid’s house.

Anonymous said...

"I live in Rankin County and none of those words are on any law enforcement vehicle in this entire county."

But how many of the vehicles have Bubba, the Sheriff's name on the rear panels and trunk?

No Mississippi Sheriff has EVER 'protected'. It's all about staying in office.

Anonymous said...

Assign them to police the grounds at the Neshoba Hob-Knob. Put Sid in charge of the group with his famous cabin as Headquarters.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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