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Locals work to get funding for Crisis Intervention Center

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
March 31, 2004
Jesse Barnett, and his wife, Opal, of Meridian, did not make it to the rally for mental health funding in Jackson on Tuesday.
But the Barnetts have worked hard to get the state to make the lack of adequate housing for mentally ill people a priority since their grandson was committed in June and then placed in the Lauderdale County jail.
He said that although Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department employees were kind and considerate, law enforcement agencies are not staffed to care for people with brain disorders.
In a letter last fall to the governor and many state representatives and senators, Barnett asked state officials why a Crisis Intervention Center built in Newton has no operational funds.
Lauderdale County District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt and Sheriff Billy Sollie met in February with state representatives in Jackson on the need for suitable housing for mental patients. They reported to the supervisors, and to Barnett, that they were told no money was available.
Patricia Battle, president of the local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill affiliate group, said housing mentally ill people in jail is a problem.