/Justice Dept State ‘discriminates’ against mentally ill adults

Justice Dept State ‘discriminates’ against mentally ill adults

“Mississippi is violating the ADA by denying residents living with disabilities the services they require and the support that they deserve,” Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said. She forced them to use state hospitals, emergency rooms, and jails, and made it clear that the government does not respect the ADA. Vanita Gupta from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated in a statement that the Justice Department’s lawsuit “demonstrates our firm commitment for vindicating the rights of people who have mental illness.” Adam Moore, DMH’s spokesperson, stated that he could not comment on the lawsuit, but gave information about the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), which provides support for individuals who are experiencing severe psychiatric distress, or sudden emotional pressure, that impairs their ability to deal with daily situations. CSUs are designed to keep people close to home, prevent them from being sent to State Hospitals, and offer voluntary admission to avoid the need for civil commitment. CSUs often admit people who are willing to receive help. This helps avoid the need for Civil Commitment. CSUs can also stabilize those who have been placed under the Civil Commitment process by the Chancery Court. According to DMH, CSUs are available for admission 24 hours a days, 7 days a semaine.” The federal complaint, which was 31 pages long, was filed in Jackson federal court. Since December 2011, a damning investigative report by the justice department was issued, state officials and mental-health advocates had hoped for a lawsuit. The lawsuit states that “Hundreds of people with mental illnesses are illegally and unnecessarily segregated in Mississippi’s state psychiatric hospitals every day” and warns that they could be tempted to enter these institutions. The lawsuit states that these individuals are kept in these isolating facilities because Mississippi has not provided them with adequate community-based mental healthcare services. “By virtue of their institutionalization, these adults with disabilities are deprived of meaningful opportunities to choose friends, work, or make choices about their day to day activities, such as what and when to eat, when to make a phone call, and where to go on a walk,” the lawsuit states. The department claims that these individuals are subject to the “unjustified isolation” that is “properly regarded as discrimination due to disability.” The 1999 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court stated that persons with disabilities had a constitutional right not to be kept in mental institutions but can live in their own communities. The ruling was supposed to prompt states to move towards expanding community mental-health services and away from institutionalization. Mississippi didn’t immediately follow this guidance. In 2011, the Justice Department stated that “Despite recent commitments to improve community capacity and better serve persons living with disabilities in integrated community settings,” the State had done little to alter the status quo. Mississippi is the only state in the country to serve more than 25% of people with developmental disabilities in its large state institutions. Thursday’s lawsuit alleges that Mississippi’s state hospitals are still segregated, and that long-term residents have been there for many years. The complaint also states that Mississippi’s legislature has emphasized institutions over community-based services. It further claims that Mississippi’s long-term units have been there for years and that they have failed individuals with mental illnesses. This lawsuit is designed to end these injustices and send a clear message that we will continue fighting for the full rights of Americans with mental illnesses.” U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch stated in a separate statement that his office had been working with the Justice Department for many years to avoid costly litigation. However, Hood claimed that he refused to sign a consent decree from the court because it would bind the state to federal oversight. “Until this year, our efforts have prevented a lawsuit and saved the state millions in anticipated expenses and attorney’s’s.” “Unfortunately, this year’s Legislature chose to spend money on big corporate tax cuts instead of helping those who need it most. Now we are in an unfortunate position where we will have to fight a lawsuit that could cost us more. It is time to take action for our mentally ill residents, and invest in their care.” To continue this important work, you can support this cause and make a regular donation to our Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.