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A Mississippi Teen with Mental Health Issues is Jailed Without a Trial for Almost 4 Years

Waller county jail
Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

In 2012, when he was 16 years old, Tyler Haire was arrested and placed in a jail in Mississippi. Haire had a history of significant mental health issues prior to the arrest. According to an investigative report, he remained in the Calhoun County Jail in Pittsboro, Mississippi, for almost four years without ever having received a mental health evaluation or a trial. Calhoun County District Attorney Ben Creekmore says that a mental health evaluation was ordered at the time the case was opened. No evidence has been found that Haire ever received the evaluation. Haire’s mother said that he had been diagnosed with at least ten different mental health issues when he was a child, including psychotic tendencies, bipolar disorder, homicidal ideations, major depressive disorder, impulse control disorder, and anxiety disorder. Yet, in his nearly four years of incarceration, Haire was given no treatments for mental health. A psychologist did, however, declare that he was legally competent in 2016, after which Haire accepted a plea bargain and is expected to be released from the jail in 2018.

Laws in Texas have recently changed to improve the care given to individuals with mental health issues who are incarcerated in the state. The Sandra Bland Act was signed into law in 2017. It mandates that county jails divert individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues toward treatment, among other things. The law was inspired by Sandra Bland, who was jailed in Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, after a controversial arrest that followed her being pulled over by a police officer for an alleged minor traffic violation. Bland committed suicide in the jail three days later, and it was believed that the jail system failed her, since she had reportedly demonstrated evidence of mental health challenges.

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