From ProPublica: “In every state, people who present a threat to themselves or others can be ordered to receive ‘mental health treatment.’ Most states allow people with substance abuse problems to be ordered into ‘treatment,’ too. The process is called civil commitment.
But Mississippi Today and ProPublica could not find any state other than Mississippi where people are routinely jailed without charges for days or weeks during that process.
. . . All told, people [in 19 Mississippi counties] were jailed at least 2,000 times for civil commitments alone from 2019 to 2022. None had been charged with a crime.
. . . Since 2006, at least 13 people have died in Mississippi county jails as they awaited treatment for mental illness or substance abuse, Mississippi Today and ProPublica found. Nine of the 13 killed themselves. At least 10 hadn’t been charged with a crime.
. . . Many [people who had been committed and jailed] said they or their family members had been housed alongside criminal defendants. Nobody knew how long they would be there. They were often shackled when they left their cells. Some of them said they couldn’t access prescribed psychiatric medications or had minimal medical care as they experienced withdrawal from illegal drugs.
‘It felt more criminal than, like, they were trying to help me,’ said Richard Millwood, who was booked into the DeSoto County jail in 2020 following an attempted suicide. ‘I got the exact same treatment in there as I did when I was in jail facing charges. In fact worse, in my opinion, because at least when I was facing charges I could bond out.'”
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