RELEASE:

Senator Longwitz Questions MDMH / Oxford House Relationship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JACKSON – State Sen. Will Longwitz (R-Madison) sent a letter today to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health questioning the relationship between the Department and Oxford House, Inc., a Maryland-based organization. The Senator’s letter follows a strongly-worded statement by Governor Phil Bryant last week calling for Mississippi to end its financial support for Oxford House. Senator Longwitz has called on the Department of Mental Health to increase its oversight of federal grant money and to force Oxford House to follow its own rules. He said if they won’t act, the Legislature will.

Oxford House, Inc.’s stated purpose is to help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. But Senator Longwitz claims that MDMH is failing to oversee the operations of Oxford House in Mississippi, and he says the state agency is threatening lawsuits against anyone who asks questions.

“It is profoundly disappointing to see the leadership of MDMH simply repeating the talking points of Oxford House, Inc., rather than doing the hard work that is necessary to examine and investigate the serious shortcomings that have been revealed by my investigation and my questions,” said Longwitz. “This is taxpayer money and people’s lives.”

Longwitz went on to say that Oxford House is being allowed to open new houses at an “explosive” rate, and that they are opening new homes before the existing ones are even filled. He calls this contrary to the needs of people in recovery, and says it goes against Oxford House’s own recovery model. Longwitz says that as a result of these failings at MDMH, federal grant money has been misspent, and recovering addicts are not being served.

The Longwitz letter follows weeks of independent investigation and public scrutiny of the Department of Mental Health and Oxford House, Inc. Oxford House’s own reports say they recruit aggressively from jails and prisons.

5/27/15