Little proposes facility to address child, family mental health issues

Jim Henry

Madison County Juvenile Court Judge Christy Little told a story of a 12-year-old boy who was in her courtroom and had made multiple appearances there – mostly because he’d been caught smoking marijuana.

“I’ll never forget the day I asked this boy living in poverty why does he smoke marijuana,” Little said. “And he said, ‘Because when I smoke I stop hearing the voices in my head.’

“And that just broke my heart because no one had asked him this question before, and he was obviously dealing with a mental health disorder that had never been evaluated.”

Little said children and families dealing with mental health issues are a regular thing she has to deal with in her courtroom. Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris said nearly half of the inmates at the county’s Criminal Justice Complex deal with mental health issues. U.S. Representative David Kustoff said it’s becoming a bigger issue at the national level, particularly among the 700,000 juveniles who were arrested in 2019 across the country.

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