MENTALLY ILL INMATES: House OKs Mental Health Court Bill
The House passed a bill Tuesday that would establish mental health courts to handle cases involving nonviolent mentally ill offenders. The America's Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project Act (S. 1865), introduced by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and co- sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), would establish a four- year Department of Justice grant program creating 100 pilot mental health courts to handle mentally ill detainees charged with nonviolent and misdemeanor offenses. Each court would feature specially trained law enforcement and judicial personnel and centralized case management departments, which would assign qualified offenders to outpatient or inpatient treatment as alternative sentences. In addition, the courts would offer mentally ill offenders life skills training, job placement and education and would monitor offenders enrolled in treatment programs. According to DOJ, 16% of all inmates in local jails and state prisons are mentally ill. The bill is supported by the American Jail Association, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, National Mental Health Association, American Correctional Association and the American Sheriffs' Association. The Senate passed the measure in September and the bill will now go to President Clinton (Domenici release, 10/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.