Change on Mental Health Ahead?


Tyler Haire spent his 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th birthdays in the Calhoun County jail in Pittsboro, Miss. Sometimes, he would throw tantrums and ask to be sent to solitary confinement where he could sleep. He would tell his jailers about the voices he heard or the visions of aliens he saw. Sometimes, he would lie on a mattress and watch the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons he loved. Other times, he would color pictures of dragons to give to the deputies.

On other days, friends of his fathers who were in the jail would beat him as a favor, because his dad had not forgiven him for the event that landed him in that jail in the first place. At age 16 on Nov. 17, 2012, Haire HAD called 911 after he attacked his father's girlfriend with a knife, though not fatally.

Haire's court-appointed defense lawyer tried repeatedly to talk to him, but to no avail. He told a judge that he did not believe Haire had the "mental capacity" to understand the aggravated-assault charges he was facing and needed to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The judge, looking at Haire's medical history that indicated diagnoses of seven mental disorders, agreed. He ordered that Haire "be given a mental evaluation at the earliest possible date." That was on April 23, 2013.

Haire spent the next three-and-a-half years in jail, waiting for an evaluation from the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield. When Haire emerged from his psychiatric evaluation, he was in tears. The psychiatrist had asked him to add two plus two, and he could not do it.

Nevertheless, the evaluation determined that he was competent to stand trial, and Haire took a seven-year plea deal.

When investigative journalist Sarah Smith asked him in 2017 why he accepted the plea deal, he was blunt in a phone

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