Mississippi's mental health system is in need of oversight. That's the decision just reached by a federal judge.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Mississippi in 2016 for not providing adequate community-based mental health services and relying on hospital confinements. Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood says he warned the Republican-controlled legislature and the Lt. governor in a series of letters more funding for the department of mental health was needed.
"It's about funding and the legislature didn't do it so we had to defend it and here we are today and we've got a decision that I told them in 2013 we were going to get," said Hood.
After a trial this summer, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Tuesday, an outsider must be appointed to oversee the mental healthcare system; noting Mississippi isn't moving fast enough to provide community services. Joy Hogge with Families as Allies supports the decision.
We've had a significant problem in Mississippi with people with mental illness not being able to live and work and be with their families in a community, and we fought that for a long time, which is tragic and we haven't resolved it as a state," said Hogge.
John Damon is with Canopy Children's Solutions, a non-profit that provides mental health services to children.
"With respect to the work of the department, there's some very sound people with very good plans. They need the fuel, the dollars to actually execute plans," said Damon.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves' office did not respond to a request for a comment on this story.