Bill that would improve mental health for inmates moves to president’s desk

Bill that would improve mental health for inmates moves to president’s desk

A bipartisan bill that would support mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals has moved to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act amends a 1968 law to allow law enforcement to partner with mental health personnel to provide the incarcerated with mental health treatment and crisis stabilization and promote community-based care upon re-entry.

The legislation also authorizes community-level crisis response programs, targeted training programs for law enforcement, strengthening local agency and provider capacity to reduce suicides during incarceration, collaborative programs involving justice and mental health agencies and community-based behavioral health providers, and a national technical assistance center to support stakeholders.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in four people in jail and one in seven people incarcerated in state and federal prisons self-reported experiences of serious psychological distress.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bill in the Senate while Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and John Rutherford (R-FL) introduced the bill in the House.

“Ensuring the strong mental health and wellbeing of those incarcerated is an important step in helping them prepare to re-enter our communities,” Armstrong said. The act “builds on efforts to lower recidivism and provides real criminal justice reform that better serves our nation and helps connect formerly incarcerated individuals to the resources they need.”