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5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals challenges Mississippi’s mental health practices decision



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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has challenged a prior decision regarding Mississippi’s mental health practices, specifically its tendency to institutionalize those with mental health conditions rather than focusing on community-based care.

The panel of three judges believed that the federal lawsuit against Mississippi lacked concrete evidence of the state’s violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They also raised concerns about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’ ambitious directive to overhaul Mississippi’s mental health system.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch defended the state’s approach, viewing the recent decision as a defense against federal intervention in state affairs. This litigation traces back to 2011 when the federal government voiced concerns about Mississippi’s reliance on mental hospitals. By 2019, Judge Reeves pointed out the state’s shortcomings in adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Subsequently, in 2021, he supported the appointment of an independent body to assess Mississippi’s mental health care effectiveness.

While state officials highlight their efforts in introducing community-based care programs, federal attorneys stress the importance of their expansive reach and consistent efficacy assessments.

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