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Judge Reeves Holds Status Conference in Ongoing Mental Health Lawsuit

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Judge Carlton Reeves held a virtual status conference regarding the third monitoring report in the United States v. Mississippi mental health lawsuit on April 26, 2023. We will share a transcript of the call when it is available.

Dr. Michael Hogan is the court-appointed monitor in the lawsuit. The remedial order compels the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to ensure that the community mental health centers offer a set of core services that the DMH required at the time of the 2019 trial. These services focus on adults with significant mental health needs.

Dr. Hogan reported improved compliance with several of the order’s requirements, including that more people attended their first follow-up appointments after discharge from the state hospitals. He also said that the community mental health centers offer the required services and that people use them. The DMH is developing tools to ensure community mental health centers provide those services as intended.

Dr. Hogan explained that his monitoring does not include all community mental health centers’ services. He and Judge Reeves discussed that people with mental illnesses still end up in jail solely due to not having treatment. Dr. Hogan also mentioned a group of people admitted to the state hospital who had never seemed to come to the attention of the community system. He expressed concern about previously hospitalized adults whose care coordinating staff have not set follow-up appointments.

Viviana Bonilla-Lopez, attorney for the United States, stated that Justice Department attorneys appreciate the gains the state has made but remain concerned. She shared that she talked to families whose family members were still not getting services. She described one mother who said her son died of suicide in the year following the trial and that the mother believed her son would not have died had the state provided the services mandated in the remedial order.

James Shelson, attorney for the state, expressed frustration that the United States attorneys would never be satisfied no matter how much progress the state makes. He also pointed out that Dr. Hogan rated the state as compliant with the remedial order requirement related to the families Ms. Bonilla-Lopez discussed.

Courtney Ann Jackson, a reporter for WLBT, reported on the conference:

[screen capture courtesy WLBT]

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