Trapped in their minds and behind bars, the mentally ill wait ye - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Trapped in their minds and behind bars, the mentally ill wait years in prison for treatment

Olivia Brown.....Source: Holmes County Sheriff's Dept. Olivia Brown.....Source: Holmes County Sheriff's Dept.
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
HOLMES COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As the mentally ill pack jails and prison across this state and country, local jails are forced to house them while some wait years for a bed to open in the state hospital. 

One inmate with a desire to die has a county sheriff pleading for legislative assistance.

"She's saying that she wants to commit suicide," said Holmes County Sheriff Willie March.

The 30 year sheriff has placed inmate Olivia Brown on suicide watch. 
He said the 50 year old has been diagnosed with mental illness and has been awaiting a bed at the Mississippi State Hospital for more than a year.

In 2014 Brown was charged with stabbing a Kruger woman to death with a butcher's knife. 

Her family wants justice.

The sheriff wants the state legislature to take action.

"It's a strain on the jails that's trying to watch this young lady because you have to check on her every 15 minutes to try to make sure that she don't harm herself and you have to try to keep her away from other inmates," said Sheriff March.

There are only 35 Forensic Service beds for the entire state for pre-trial evaluations and treatment. Holmes county isn't alone. 

Rankin County jail administrator Lt. James Rutland says they are holding 6 inmates awaiting mental evaluation to stand trial.
The longest has waited two years.. Medication for the mentally ill there can range from $75.00 per month per inmate to $475.00 depending upon the prescription.

The costs can take a toll on small county jails like Holmes.

"The state needs to look at they're adding prosecuting attorneys, added March. "I think they need to look at adding more beds and adding more psychiatrists to the state hospital." 

Mississippi State Hospital public relations director Kathy Benton said there are two cases in Holmes County. Orders for both cases were received in March. One of them is anticipated to be admitted this week. The other is pending bed availability.

The Treatment Advocacy Center reports that there are 356,000 inmates with serious mental illnesses in jails and state prisons, 10 times the number of those being treated in state hospitals.

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