JACKSON, Mississippi – Beverly Poole is concerned about her brother Marvin Parnell, who was held at the Oktibbeha County Jail in Starkville, Mississippi from July 2021 to January 2023. Parnell, now 48, is a veteran who served in the US Marine Corps from 1994 until he was 1998.
In November, before being admitted to the hospital, Oktibbeja County prison officials told the Mississippi Free Press that Parnell was being held in custody while awaiting a mental health evaluation after he was first arrested for possession of stolen property. . Officials said they had been waiting for a bed to become available at the state hospital since the judge ordered the evaluation, and such long waits are commonplace.
In multiple conversations with the Mississippi Free Press, Poole said he fears for his brother’s life and explained that he has a complicated history of dealing with mental health issues.
“This is the first time he’s been in trouble like this,” she said, before a bed was finally available at Whitfield Hospital on November 4, 2022. “And they understand that it’s just a detention facility, so they’re just keeping him there.”
“So my concern is that I’m really worried about my brother’s welfare.”
“Instead of getting the mental help that individuals need, they are putting them in jail and it’s not good and I just want my brother to get worse or have some tragedy happen to him there.” I don’t want to, Poole told the Mississippi Free Press.
Poole later said he received a call informing him that Parnell had been transferred to a state hospital on January 6, 2023.
Oktibbeha Circuit Court Judge James T. Kitchens first ordered a mental health evaluation in September 2021. He subsequently issued an “order for commitment to treatment and continued psychiatric evaluation” in October 2021, case records show. This month, he postponed the hearing in Parnell’s case from his January 5, 2023 to his April 5, 2023 date.
open a mental health treatment court
At the Mississippi State Capitol on January 17, 2022, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Michael K. Randolph pilots five newly created mental health courts at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Judiciary A Committees. talked about the program.
In a January 17, 2022 press release, “Mental Health Treatment Tribunal Will Use Problem-Solving Approaches Instead of Traditional Courtroom Procedures When Nonviolent Offenders Are Screened and Diagnosed with Mental Illness” ‘ said. “The program includes screening, clinical assessment, education, treatment referral, counseling and rehabilitation care, service coordination, and case management.”
“More traditional court proceedings” end in imprisonment.
The Mississippi Judiciary serves District 1 (Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontococ, Prentice, and Tishomingo Counties), District 4 (Lefleur, Sunflower, and Washington Counties), District 5 (Adams, Amite, Franklin Counties, Wilkinson County), District 7 (Hines County), and District 14 (Lincoln, Pike, and Walsall Counties).
Chief Justice Randolph told legislators at the Capitol on Jan. 17 that the county sheriff told him that “a significant number of mental health problems are caused by people who are not on their medications.” rice field. He explained the impact of other intervention courts in the state, including drug courts, and said he had saved the state incarceration costs $1 billion since 2016.
Using prepared documents as a reference, Randolph notes that between 2015 and 2022, 875 people earned GED diplomas, providing lawmakers with other evidence of the effectiveness of intervention courts. bottom. 5667 people found employment. 774 attended vocational school. and he attended post-secondary education by 1,549. From 2006 to 2023, he said, 9,814 have graduated from drug courts and 933 babies have been born drug-free. Adult drug court participants paid $17,468,584 in court fines and $22,317,897 in drug court fees.
“This is the most efficient operation of state government,” Randolph told lawmakers. “There is nothing that an intervention court produces as it does with savings.”
According to data obtained by the Mississippi Free Press from the Mississippi Courts Administration, in 2022, nearly as many people graduated from drug courts in the state as the courts finished their programs.
There were 3,549 active participants in all Mississippi drug intervention courts in 2022. 1,374 new entrants entered the program, 617 successfully graduated, and the court dismissed his 603 participants. When someone is fired from a drug court program, it usually means they didn’t meet the program’s requirements. This may include failing a drug test, failing to attend a required meeting, or committing a new crime.
The National Drug Court Institute said dismissal was the “ultimate sanction” in drug courts. “Participants may receive a criminal record for conviction, with attendant consequences such as ineligibility for certain public interests,” the organization said. “Participants may then be convicted of their original charges, have their probation or parole revoked, or receive prison or prison sentences.”
Data from the 2022 Mississippi Administrative Court All-Felon Drug Intervention Court data revealed that there were 3,133 active participants. 997 new entrants entered the program, 504 successfully completed the program, and the court closed 409 of his. All juvenile drug intervention courts had 284 active participants, 264 new participants entered the program that year, 117 successfully completed the program, and 141 finished . .
In a presentation to lawmakers on Jan. 17, Chief Justice Randolph said adding a mental health treatment court to the system would add an extra layer of accountability to those in need.
“But this accountability element – having to come to court and say, ‘Yes, I’m on medication,’ etc., so[participants]see a significant improvement in terms of their mental health.” I hope,” he said. He said.
Pam Holmes, Chief of Courts for Intervention Courts, told the Mississippi Free Press at the Capitol on Jan. 17 that officials are still working out the details of how such courts would operate. said.
“You will learn a lot as you go along, so I reached out to the[Mississippi]Department of Mental Health and various[local mental health services],” she said. Told. “However, we are already aware that some local and regional community health centers are reaching capacity or their resources are not as great as they should be.”
Holmes said of the five state jurisdictions providing funding to start mental health treatment courts, only two, Districts 1 and 4, have started seeing people. .
“These are individuals who have been in drug court and who have been identified and evaluated as eligible to participate in mental health treatment programs,” she said.
Holmes explained that mental health courts create communities that offer services to individuals, such as helping them maintain regular use of prescription drugs. She also said it could prevent people who committed nonviolent crimes from being “sent to Parchman Prison[in Mississippi]where they would not get the proper treatment they could benefit from.” .
She said the goal is to “restore the individual to a truly stable and ideal individual who can function in society.”