The Mississippi veteran waited 18 months in prison for a mental health evaluation

Jackson, Miss. — Beverly Ball is worried about her brother, Marvin Pernell, who was within the Oktibha County Jail in Starkville, Miss., from July 2021 by January 2023 and is now at Mississippi State Hospital, a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Whitfield, Miss. Now 48, Pernell is a army veteran who served in the US Marine Corps from 1994 to 1998.

In November, previous to his admission to the hospital, an Oktiphaha County Jail official informed the Mississippi Free Press that Pernell was being held whereas awaiting a psychological well being analysis following his preliminary arrest for possession of stolen property. The official mentioned he had been ready for a mattress to open on the state hospital for the reason that decide ordered the analysis and that such lengthy ready instances have been routine.

Over a number of conversations with the Mississippi Free Press, Paul mentioned she feared for her brother’s life and defined that she had a checkered historical past of coping with psychological well being points.

“That is the primary time he has ever had any downside like this,” she mentioned on November 4, 2022, earlier than a mattress was lastly out there at Whitfield Hospital. “And I perceive that they’re only a detention middle, so they simply home it there.”

Kitchens, District Court Judge James T
On January 5, 2023, Oktibbeha Circuit Courtroom Decide James T. adjourned the Oktibbeha County Jail from July 2021 to January 2023 whereas awaiting a psychological well being analysis that Kitchens requested. Picture courtesy of the Attibha Circuit Courtroom

“So my concern is, I am actually frightened about my brother’s well-being as a result of, to start with, he is not getting any psychological well being (assist), nothing,” Paul added. “They simply held him. They are saying they’re ready on a mattress.”

“As a substitute of a person getting the psychological assist they want, they put them in jail, which isn’t good, and I do not need my brother to deteriorate or, you recognize, have one thing tragic occur to him on the market,” Paul informed the Mississippi Free Press.

Ball later mentioned she obtained a name telling her that Parnell could be transferred to State Hospital on January 6, 2023.

Oktibbeha Circuit Courtroom Decide James T. Kitchens first with a psychological well being evaluation in September 2021; He subsequently issued an “Persevering with Psychological Analysis and Therapy Dedication Order” in October 2021 Agenda for the difficulty of shows. This month, he postponed a listening to in Parnell’s case from January 5, 2023, to April 5, 2023.

Opening psychological well being therapy courts

On the Mississippi Capitol on January 17, 2022, Michael Okay. Randolph, a Mississippi Supreme Courtroom justice, informed a joint Home and Senate Committee A gathering about 5 newly created pilot packages for psychological well being courts.

“The Psychological Well being Therapy Courtroom makes use of a problem-solving strategy rather than conventional court docket procedures for non-violent offenders who’ve been examined and identified with psychological sickness,” the Administrative Workplace of Courts mentioned in a January 17, 2022 press launch. “This system consists of screening, medical analysis, training, referral for therapy, counseling, rehabilitative care, service coordination, and case administration.”

Essentially the most “conventional court docket process” ends in imprisonment.

Mississippi Chief Justice Mike Randolph
Mississippi Chief Justice Mike Randolph informed a joint assembly of the Home and Senate committee Jan. 17, 2023 that intervention courts, together with drug courts, have saved the state greater than $1 billion. He attributed this to diversion packages and intervention courts that prevented folks from getting into the jail system. Photograph by Kayode Crown

The Mississippi judiciary has created 5 pilot psychological well being therapy courts, together with in its 1st District (Alcorn, Itwampa, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentice and Tichomingo counties), 4th District (Leaflor, Sunflower and Washington counties), fifth District (Adams, Amit., Franklin and Wilkinson Counties), the Seventh District (Hinds County), and the Fourteenth District (Lincoln, Pike, and Walthall Counties).

Chief Justice Randolph informed Capitol lawmakers Jan. 17 that county sheriffs informed him that “numerous psychological well being issues are attributable to people who find themselves not taking medicine.” He outlined the impression of different court docket interventions within the state, together with drug courts, and mentioned they’ve saved the state $1 billion in incarceration prices since 2016.

Utilizing a ready doc as a reference, Randolph offered lawmakers with different proof of the effectiveness of intervention courts, noting that between 2015 and 2022, 875 folks earned GED diplomas; 5,667 acquired a job; 774 attended vocational colleges; 1,549 attended post-secondary training. From 2006 to 2023, he mentioned, 9,814 drug courts graduated and 933 kids have been born with out medicine. The doc confirmed that grownup contributors in drug courts paid $17,468,584 in court docket fines and $22,317,897 in drug court docket charges.

“That is essentially the most environment friendly strategy of state authorities, aside from having none,” Randolph informed lawmakers. “Nobody produces such a court docket intervention in financial savings.”

Mississippi Free Press information obtained from the Mississippi Administrative Workplace of Courts confirmed that in 2022, roughly the identical variety of folks graduated from drug courts within the state as courts terminated this system.

Throughout all drug intervention courts in Mississippi in 2022, there have been 3,549 lively contributors; 1,374 new entrants joined this system, 617 graduated efficiently, and 603 entrants have been terminated by the courts. If somebody completed From the drug court docket program, this normally signifies that they fail to fulfill program necessities, which can contain failing drug exams, failing to attend required conferences or committing new offenses.

the The Nationwide Institute of Medication Courtroom of Termination mentioned It’s the “closing punishment” within the drug court docket. “Contributors could get hold of a prison report for conviction, with concomitant collateral penalties comparable to ineligibility for sure public advantages,” the group mentioned. “Contributors could subsequently be sentenced on the premise of the unique cost(s), have their probation or parole revoked, or have a jail sentence or imprisonment imposed.”

Knowledge from the Mississippi Administrative Courts Workplace for all drug crime intervention courts in 2022 revealed that there have been 3,133 lively contributors; 997 new contributors entered this system, 504 accomplished this system efficiently and 409 have been terminated by courts. For all juvenile drug intervention courts, there have been 284 lively contributors, 264 new contributors entered this system within the 12 months, 117 contributors accomplished this system efficiently, and 141 terminated throughout.

accountability issue

In his presentation to lawmakers Jan. 17, Chief Justice Randolph mentioned including psychological well being therapy courts to the system would add a layer of accountability for individuals who need assistance.

“However that accountability issue — having to come back to court docket and say, ‘Yeah, I have been taking my medicine’ and the whole lot, and hopefully (the participant) has a major enchancment on the psychological well being facet,” he mentioned.

Attibha County Jail
Marvin Pernell, 48, was within the Oktibha County Jail for 18 months, from July 2021 to January 2023, with out trial. Picture courtesy Google Maps

An administrative workplace for the courts, Intervention Courts Director Pam Holmes, informed the Mississippi Free Press on the Capitol on Jan. 17 that officers are nonetheless understanding the small print of how these courts will function.

“There shall be loads of studying on the job as we go ahead, which is why we have reached out to the (Mississippi) Division of Psychological Well being and in addition varied (Regional Psychological Well being Providers),” she mentioned. “However we do understand that there are some regional and local people well being facilities which might be both stretched to capability or their assets usually are not as nice as they might be.”

Administrative Office of the Courts Director of Intervention Courts Pam Holmes
5 psychological well being therapy courts are opening within the state throughout a listening to Jan. 17, 2023. Workplace of Courtroom Administration Intervention Courts Director Pam Holmes tells Mississippi lawmakers. Photograph by Kayode Crown

Holmes mentioned that solely two of the 5 counties within the state that have been funded to start out a psychological well being therapy court docket are beginning to see folks: the primary and fourth counties.

“These are the people who’ve been in drug court docket and have been recognized and brought assessments qualifying to affix a psychological well being therapy program,” she mentioned.

Holmes defined that psychological well being courts would create communities to supply providers to people, comparable to serving to them keep common use of pharmaceuticals. It additionally mentioned it will stop individuals who commit non-violent offenses from being “despatched to (Mississippi State Penitentiary in) Parchman, the place in addition they is not going to obtain correct therapy from which they might profit.”

The purpose, she mentioned, was to “actually stabilize the person, to revive him to a perfect place as a functioning particular person in society”.

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