- Jim HoodMississippi Attorney General
Release Mississippi's Children's Mental Health Independent Assessment
ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD: CHAMPION OR OPPRESSOR OF CHILDREN WITH MENTAL ILLNESS?
Demand AG Jim Hood Release Mississippi's Children’s Mental Health Independent Assessment
On his website, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood describes himself as “a passionate champion of children”. Yet, Attorney General Hood has turned his back on the most vulnerable children in Mississippi, children with mental illness. He is ignoring them and allowing them to languish in institutions, jail and foster care. These children are not an abstract concept. They are real children. They are OUR CHILDREN.
This year over 70,000 Mississippi children will experience serious mental health problems. Many will end up in jail, long term institutional care and the streets because the right kinds of services and supports for them do not exist. We all pay for that in multiple ways.
We have begged the Attorney General to work with us and others to create services that would actually help our children. Well-designed services save money over time and allow children to stay in the community and become successful adults. Everyone wins.
Rather than work with us, since January 2012, Attorney General Hood has stonewalled us and negotiated in total secrecy with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding its 2011 finding that Mississippi does not provide children like ours with the services and supports they need to live in the community like other children. He could have used his role and influence to demand that the State follow the law and help our children, but instead he chose to waste four precious years of our children's lives and countless dollars of taxpayer money.
To make matters even worse, right before Christmas, the negotiations fell apart and were terminated by a federal judge because Attorney General Hood refused to agree to a settlement that was public and could be monitored and enforced.
In addition to ignoring us, our children, and seemingly the law, Attorney General Hood is withholding from Mississippi citizens vital information paid for by taxpayers that provides a blueprint of how to fix our broken system. In the fall of 2014, the State underwent an independent assessment of the children’s mental health system as a requirement of the negotiations. The assessment team and all participants were told the resulting report would be public. The report provides objective and comprehensive recommendations for much needed reform in Mississippi.
The State received the report on Friday, March 6, 2015. The Attorney General’s office announced for the first time the following Monday that it would not be made public. We have repeatedly pleaded with Attorney General Hood to release the report so we, along with everyone else who has a genuine interest in our children, can use its recommendations to make things better for all Mississippi children affected by mental illness. Doing so would also help thwart yet another lawsuit against Mississippi and allow a Mississippi problem to be solved by Mississippians rather than the federal government.
Others have requested the report as well. Attorney General Hood has even been sued (filing # 71) for it and chose to waste even MORE of our tax dollars fighting that suit. His one "justification" for withholding the report - that it is part of ongoing negotiations - no longer exists because, as noted earlier, those negotiations failed under his leadership and were terminated.
STAND UP FOR MISSISSIPPI'S CHILDREN - ALL OF MISSISSIPPI'S CHILDREN. Insist that Attorney General Hood finally be responsible, compassionate and transparent on behalf of the most vulnerable children in Mississippi . Demand that he publicly release the report he already has that we already paid for so that we can make things better for our children.
Families as Allies is the only state wide organization run by and for families of children with mental illness. Our mission is to make sure families are partners in their children’s care. We support each other and also work to make state systems and policies related to our children responsive, beneficial and accountable.
We welcome all families, and everyone else who is interested, to join us in working together for our children. We are currently organizing town hall meetings and other activities around the state. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 601-355-0915 or 1-800-833-9671.
- Mississippi Attorney General
On your website you describe yourself as a dedicated public servant who is committed to protecting the citizens of our state” and “a passionate champion of children” who “works tirelessly to prevent children from being abused and exploited”. Yet, you are withholding information that taxpayers paid for that tells us how to reform our system so that children with mental health challenges can get the help they need. Our system is broken, and there are children who could be living with their families who are instead in foster care, institutions and jail as a result of your actions. We implore you to make public the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) report of the children's behavioral health system.
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