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Tax approved for mental health facility to be collected in 2020

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BATON ROUGE- Voters overwhelmingly made a decision to fund a mental health facility in East Baton Rouge Parish over the weekend. However, the money won't arrive until 2020.

In the meantime, District Attorney Hillar Moore said they are looking at other funding sources to get the facility off the ground before then. According to Moore, the new facility will employ 42 workers and could be housed at the Baton Rouge General Midcity. There would be 30 beds: 10 for detox, and 20 for mental health patients.

No one knows the problems of mental illness better than retired East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Deputy Carolyn Stapleton. Her son has bipolar disorder. He does not share her last name and she is not identifying because she said a stigma is still associated with mental illness.

Recently, Stapleton said she noticed her son could not stay in her house any longer.

"I go to bed, I'm dead tired," Stapleton said. "He got it in his mind he wanted a waterbed. He ran a water hose to the air mattress, filled it up with water. I woke up that morning. I stepped into a puddle of water that he's trying to clean up with a towel."

Last month, Stapleton said her son was committed, and she recorded a shocking phone call with his social worker.

        CAROLYN STAPLETON: "If he's released, I'm very concerned for his safety, and he can't be released to home."

        SOCIAL WORKER: "If you're concerned, call the police again and have them pick him up."

Stapleton said with her law enforcement background this is the wrong approach. She said the mentally ill should not become law enforcement's responsibility due to a lack of resources.

"It's been completely devastating," Stapleton said. "It's acute and it's chronic. You never know what's going to happen next when the person's with you."

Stapleton said she is grateful that voters in EBR saw the need. She said her son was released from the facility against her wishes, but she doesn't know where he is now.


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