Domino effect of budget cuts will impact drug courts - - Jackson, MS

Domino effect of budget cuts will impact drug courts

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
LEAKE COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The impact of Mississippi's budget shortfall is coming into focus. The Department of Mental Health is one of the first to announce specific programs it's dropping. Among those, two chemical dependency units will close.

"Locking them up and throwing away the key is not the answer," said Marcus Ellis, coordinator at the Eighth Judicial District Drug Court. 

"We have an individual right now who is incarcerated," noted Ellis. "He has a severe methamphetamine problem. He is in jail. He's getting no treatment."

But there was a plan in the works to have him enter the drug court and straight to East Mississippi State Hospital. Now, that will have to change.

"What do we do with the guy?" asked Ellis. "In order to get the guy into treatment we have to have a way to pay for it. East Mississippi, in his particular case, was the perfect answer."

A letter arrived this week that provided notification of the chemical dependency unit for men at East Mississippi State Hospital is closing June 30.

"The treatment is the very first aspect of the drug court," Ellis explained. "That gives us something to build on."

There are, of course, other treatment facilities scattered throughout the state but East Mississippi didn't include any out of pocket costs for the participants.

"We will make this work," Ellis added. "Whatever it takes, we will make it work but it may be painful. And it may cause collateral damage on the other end because somebody has to pay for this."

Ellis says taxpayers will pay if more addicts are ordered into Mississippi Department of Corrections custody in order to receive substance abuse treatment.

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