AUG 11, 2016
Original Article Published on NBCNews.com
The Justice Department sued Mississippi on Thursday, accusing it of using segregated state-run hospitals to warehouse mentally ill people who could thrive in the community, instead.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, alleges that the state — whose budget crisis has led to deep cuts for the state Department of Mental Health — refuses to provide adequate community-based services, unnecessarily forcing “hundreds of people a day” to enter the state’s four mental institutions, which it described as illegally segregated.
“Thousands of adults with mental illness in Mississippi needlessly cycle in and out of the State Hospitals each year because they do not receive the supports they need in the community,” according to the complaint, which demands that the state be declared in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
The Justice Department said in a statement that it filed the suit to compel the state to provide adequate community services after extended negotiations on a settlement fell apart.
“When individuals with mental illness receive the services they need, they are better able to find meaningful work, secure stable housing, build personal relationships, and avoid involvement with the criminal justice system,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in the statement.
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