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Trial set in federal suit over mental health in Mississippi

The federal government’s effort to force Mississippi to change its mental health care system is going to trial Tuesday.

The U.S. Justice Department sued the state in 2016. It says Mississippi breaks the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing too many people into state hospitals and not providing enough services in the community.

The state says its system is legal and that changes the federal government seeks overstep the authority of a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision that underlies the case. Mississippi’s lawyers say the state isn’t required to offer a system with no unmet needs or gaps in service.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves will hear evidence without a jury. The trial in Jackson could go six weeks or longer, and a decision is unlikely before late this year.

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