Mental health legislation signed into law

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Legislation designed to expand access to mental health services for those leaving the prison system has been signed into law, two congressmen said Sunday.

The Crisis Stabilization and Community Re-entry Act of 2020, introduced by U.S. Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL) and David Trone (D-MD), will provide “Continuity of Care” for those at risk of recidivism, the two lawmakers said.

“Throughout my time in law enforcement, I saw many individuals re-offend time and time again with the same offenses involving substance abuse and mental health issues,” Rutherford said. “Those exiting the prison system face numerous challenges as they go back to their communities, often with little or no support. That’s why I was proud to introduce the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, which was just signed into law. Providing inmates mental health and addiction support during and after incarceration will save lives, save money, and reduce crime and recidivism.”

The legislation gives law enforcement the ability to partner with mental health providers to give those incarcerated access to treatment, counseling, and other transition services once released. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in seven prisoners in state and federal prisons and one in four prisoners in jails self-reported experiencing serious psychological distress.

“We are facing a mental health crisis that has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and incarcerated populations are bearing the brunt of it due to the lack of social distancing and safety measures,” Trone said. “Every American deserves access to high-quality mental health care, and this bill will help us make this a reality by ensuring that incarcerated individuals can access treatment should they need it.”

A Senate version of the legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-RI)

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