|Oct. 26, 2020
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To Whom It May Concern:
The Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University is interested in Mississippi’s civil commitment programs under Miss. Code Ann. § 41-31-3. Specifically, we are looking for data concerning individuals civilly committed for substance use and addiction treatment, the programmatic offerings for those individuals, and Mississippi’s response to COVID-19 in its civil commitment system.
In order to permit the public to understand how the state of Mississippi is administering involuntary commitment, the outcomes of that program, and the impact on Mississippi’s public health, the Health in Justice Action Lab is making this request pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-2 for the following records:
1. State-wide volume. Any record showing the number of people who were civilly committed for substance use and addiction in each year since 2015 to the latest available.
2. Demographic information. Any and all records reflecting de-identified demographic summary statistics, including (but not necessarily limited to) race, gender, age, and pregnancy status, pertaining to individuals who have been civilly committed for substance use and addiction, from 2015 to latest available.
3. Facility information. Summary statistics, reports, or relevant documentation detailing facilities that are used to house people civilly commitment for substance use and addiction, including the following information:
a) Summary of the number of individuals committed to each individual facility for substance use in each year since 2015, to latest available.
b) For each facility housing people civilly committed for substance use, summary of the number of individuals also being held on criminal charges in those same facilities
c) Which facilities employ or contract health care providers licensed to prescribe methadone and/or buprenorphine.
d) Number of individuals each facility is licensed to house.
e) State agency managing each facility housing people civilly committed for substance use disorder.
f) Any and all documentation noting the number of non-fatal and fatal overdose incidents within each facility housing people civilly committed for substance use disorder in each year since 2015.
4. Financial information. Summary statistics, reports, or relevant documentation regarding government resources or insurance funds that are used to pay for civil commitment for substance use/addiction in each year since 2015.
5. Re-entry planning. Any and all documentation regarding the re-entry planning process for people discharged from civil commitment for substance use disorder, including:
a) Overdose education and naloxone distribution
b) Linkage to treatment in the community
c) Linkage to housing in the community
d) Insurance assistance
e) Any other support or health services
6. External overdose data. Any and all documentation noting the number of overdose incidents of patients within 1 year of re-entry from civil commitment for substance use disorder/addiction in each year since 2015.
Because this request involves a matter of public concern and because it is made on behalf of a nonprofit organization, we ask that you waive any fees. If you decide not to waive fees, we request that you permit us to examine, at our election, the responsive documents before deciding which portions to transmit. We prefer the documents in electronic format.
Should you determine that some portion of the documents requested are exempt from disclosure, please release any reasonably segregable portions that are not exempt. In addition, please note the applicable statutory exemption and explain why it applies to the redacted portions. As you know, a custodian of public records shall comply with a request within 7 business days, as the statute requires after receipt.
Thank you for your assistance. We look forward to your response.
Health in Justice Action Lab
Mississippi State Hospital (MSH) is currently the only program directly operated by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health that contains a chemical dependency unit for individuals who have been civilly committed for substance use and addiction treatment. Staff there have estimated that this request could potentially take 35 hours to fulfill at a total cost of $450.
At this time, MSH estimates approximately:
* 15 hrs. at a rate of $20.00/hr.
* 20 hrs. at a rate of $7.50/hr.
Please advise on how you wish to proceed with this request. However, please keep in mind this is an estimate and the final time and corresponding rates could increase or decrease. Also copied on this reply is Mr. Bobby Blanks with MSH, who will be assisting and coordinating with the MSH staff who are fulfilling the request. Thank you.
Director of Planning and Communications
Mississippi Department of Mental Health
Dear Mr. Moore,
Thank you for your response. As a public policy research institution, we respectfully request that you waive or reduce the above mentioned fee(s). Under the Freedom of Information Act, an agency should waive or reduce fees in cases where “disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).
The information we have requested is strictly for academic, non-commercial, research purposes, and we believe that the disclosure of this information will be highly beneficial to the citizens of Mississippi. Please let us know if you will be able to fulfill this request at a reduced rate.
In response to your email provided to Mr. Adam Moore, Director of Planning and Communications at the Department of Mental Health, on November 20, 2020, the Freedom of Information Act applies to federal agencies. The Department of Mental and its programs, including Mississippi State Hospital, are state operated agencies; therefore, the Freedom of Information Act provision you cite is not applicable to your request.
Thank you for your interest in Mississippi State Hospital.
Human Resources Director
Mississippi State Hospital
NOTICE: This email message and/or its attachments are the property of Mississippi State Hospital and may contain information that is confidential or restricted. It is intended only for the individuals named as recipients in the message. If you are NOT an authorized recipient, you are prohibited from using, delivering, distributing, printing, copying, or disclosing the message or content to others and must delete the message from your computer. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender by return email. Per Federal HIPAA Guidelines, please do not send Client/Patient identifying information through unprotected e-mail.
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