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Social justice crisis: MURC will address cost of incarcerating mentally ill in Hinds County

ALEXIS FEATURE NU BYLINE

The Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) is hosting a forum on Bridging the Gap: Reducing the Incarcerated Mentally Ill Jail Population through Coordinated Services from 9-11 a.m. Thursday, April 20, at JSU’s downtown campus, 101 Capitol Street, Room 107.

Mental Health1The event will discuss the fiscal, health, legal and human cost of incarcerating the mentally ill in Hinds County and what can be done to address the mental health crisis. The forum will bring together judges, leaders in mental health, law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, court personnel and legislators to discuss creating a system that will improve these issues.

Reportedly, the U.S. is experiencing a large number of individuals suffering from mental illness who are not being treated and most times end up caught in the criminal justice system as opposed to the mental health system. Once incarcerated, people with mental illness typically stay in jail longer than inmates who are not mentally ill and return more often.

The inability to address this mental health crisis has caused jail and prison populations to swell at an enormous rate. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, approximately 20 percent of jail inmates and 15 percent of state prison inmates have serious mental illnesses.

There are limited resources for diverting individuals with mental conditions away from jails and prisons, and a strategy is needed to provide them the support they need to avoid involvement in the criminal justice system.

Key stakeholders will discuss ways to bridge the gap between services designed to provide needed support for the incarcerated mentally ill. It is envisioned that this forum will help lay the groundwork for the development of a coalition to address the problem.

There is limited seating for this event. RSVP by calling or emailing Frederick O’Quinn at 601-979-1169 (Frederick.a.oquinn@jsums.edu) or Dr. Sam Mozee at 601-979-4204 (sam.mozee@jsums.edu). Deadline to RSVP is Monday, April 17.