About DRMS

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Our Mission

The mission of Disability Rights Mississippi is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities, and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education and employment.

What is the main function of this agency and what does it mean?

Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) is a private, non-profit corporation with a federal mandate to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities across the state of MS. DRMS has been providing advocacy services for almost thirty years, free of charge, to Mississippians with disabilities and has helped improve the lives of thousands of our state’s most vulnerable population by championing their rights. DRMS is the only disability advocacy agency in MS that has attorneys on staff to pursue legal remedies if necessary. The mission of DRMS is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all persons with disabilities and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education and employment.

What issues does DRMS advocate for?

Accommodations in the classroom; Employment Accessibility and Benefits; Medicaid Rights; Increased Community-Based Services and Supports; Equal Access to the Electoral Process; Fiscal Responsibility of Policy Makers; Accessible Transportation; Affordable and Accessible Housing.

How does DRMS determine the projects it works on? 

DRMS proudly accepts input from communities across the state every year in an effort to have the voices of the people it serves drive the priorities it works on. DRMS also accepts suggestions from anyone with an interest in its work throughout the year via the feedback form available on this web-site.

When should I call DRMS for assistance?

Anytime that you feel your individual rights have been violated or you are aware of the rights of another individual with a disability whose rights have been violated. If you know of a personal care home that needs to be investigated, or if you know of a situation in which abuse and neglect are probable, always call us. If the issue is not in line with our goals and priorities for the current year, we will diligently assist you by providing referrals to others who may be able to help.  Never hesitate to call us with a question or concern. We have a strong information and referral system. The staff at DRMS have vast experience and heart. They strive to provide top quality advocacy assistance at all levels.

DRMS History

The Protection and Advocacy System in Mississippi was first organized in 1976 and was under the Governor’s Office in State Government. An opinion by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office in 1979 suggested that the organization should be a private, non-profit organization as it would be a conflict of interest for one State Government Office to sue another Department of State Government.

In 1982, Mississippi Protection and Advocacy System for the Developmentally Disabled was incorporated under the laws of the State of Mississippi and submitted a proposal for the Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled allotment. The Governor decided to re-designate the Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled program and subsequently accepted the proposal submitted by the newly incorporated Mississippi Protection and Advocacy System for The Developmentally Disabled. In December, 1982, the newly designated Protection and Advocacy System opened its doors for advocacy services to the developmentally disabled population of Mississippi.

After acquiring the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals With Mental Illness Program in 1986, the organization, under the laws of the State of Mississippi, changed its name by dropping “For the Developmentally Disabled”. After being known for years by the acronym MPAS or MSPAS, the agency officially changed its name to Disability Rights Mississippi in June of 2009 after final approval by the Board of Directors. Included in this name change was a logo change as well.

It is Disability Rights Mississippi policy to settle matters informally, on the lowest level possible; however, the agency has the authority to take legal action on behalf of clients when necessary. The agency has 3 lawyers on staff.

P&A History

The Protection and Advocacy concept was initially triggered by a series of local television news broadcasts, which Geraldo Rivera did for the ABC News affiliate in New York City. Rivera’s investigative reporting exposed abuse, neglect and lack of programming at Willowbrook, a state institution for people with mental retardation on Staten Island.

Our Advocates

Advocates at Disability Rights Mississippi are available to investigate complaints of abuse or neglect on behalf of any individual with a physical or mental disability. Other staff responsibilities include providing public information concerning the rights of people with disabilities. Advocates may assist professional and citizen groups by providing workshops on the rights of, and etiquette for appropriate interacting with the disabled population. DRMS has three substantive “Issue Teams” with each team having certain case selection criteria and functioning with a senior advocate and a managing attorey as co-leader. The teams each have their own priorities for the year and are classified as the Community Team, the Facilities Team, and The Education Team. The Katrina Team is a unique team which will continue until the end of the Mississippi Case Management Consortium grant period.

If you would like to inquire about career opportunities or the possibility of volunteerism, please use the general inquires tab to send your request.

Our Services

Help is provided in several ways, and depends on the priorities and goals set by Disability Rights Mississippi, which have been approved by the  Board of Directors. Problems may include abuse, neglect, education, employment, housing, denial of services or denial of access.

The Cost

All of the services at Disability Rights Mississippi are free of charge. However, issues must relate to either a physical or mental disability, include a violation of rights, and align with the goals and priorities set for the fiscal year.