DOJ Investigates Mississippi's Public Mental Health System
DOJ Findings Letter Summary Provided to Attorney General’s Office
January 5, 2012
On December 22, 2011, the State of Mississippi received a Findings Letter from the United States Department of Justice outlining their investigation of the State’s Mental Health System for Persons with Mental Illness and Developmental Disabilities.
During the investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) assessed the State’s compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, as interpreted in Olmstead v. L.C., 527. U.S. 581 (1999), requiring individuals with disabilities, including mental illness and developmental disabilities, receive services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. DOJ concluded that the State of Mississippi fails to provide services to qualified individuals with disabilities, including mental illness and developmental disabilities, in the most integrated settings appropriate to the needs, in violation of the ADA.
DOJ hopes to reach a written, enforceable, settlement agreement with the State of Mississippi that would set forth remedial actions to be taken within a specified period of time to address each outstanding area. If a settlement is not reached with the DOJ, then a lawsuit may be initiated against the State to assure compliance with the ADA.
In an effort to move the State of Mississippi’s Mental Health System forward and place even more individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness in their communities, the Department of Mental Health has requested an additional $49.8 million in the appropriation for Fiscal Year 2013. These additional funds will help the State move forward with more community placement of individuals through expanding services provided by community service providers. In addition, the funds will be used to enroll more individuals on the IDD waiver program, which would allow individuals to receive services in their communities. These have been goals since the inception of DMH’s Strategic Plan in 2009 and are highlighted in the current year’s Plan.
At this time, we don’t know what potential litigation could cost the state of Mississippi. Below are examples of budget increases from two other states related to DOJ.
Georgia $77 million
- The Governor called for the legislature to come up with $15 million in the amended annual budget for 2011 and $62 million in the 2012 budget. (Psychiatric News) The new funding is only a first step, however, and Georgia is obliged to invest new funding over the five-year time frame of the settlement to continue to increase access to community services. (Georgia Budget and Policy Institute)
Virginia $30 million
Virginia’s Governor has proposed adding $30 million to their budget request for more community-based treatment, including $9.8 million to expand IDD waiver slots.