Government News
Grants Target Intersection of Mental Illness, Justice Systems
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 21 page 27-27

An APA-supported bill designed to help identify and treat people with mental illness in the criminal justice system has passed the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives and will be sent to President Bush for signature.

In June APA submitted written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for a hearing about the bill, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (HR 2387).

"People with mental illness make up one of the most vulnerable and treatable populations in our society, and yet they are housed in our most punitive institutions," APA wrote.

APA also pointed out that people with mental illness are significantly overrepresented in jails and prisons, are much more expensive to incarcerate than other inmates, are incarcerated longer than other inmates, and would be better served economically and medically by being treated in their communities (Psychiatric News, July 16).

The legislation authorizes the U.S. attorney general to award nonrenewable grants for collaborative and comprehensive proposals designed for adults or juveniles with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The grants will be used by eligible applicants to create or expand the following:

The attorney general must develop a list of best practices for appropriate diversion from incarceration of adult and juvenile offenders who need mental health care.

The Senate passed its version of the bill (S 1194) in October 2003 with a $100 million authorization. The amended version of S 1194, which passed October 12, authorizes $50 million.

The text of each bill can be accessed online at<http://thomas.loc.gov> by searching on its respective the bill number, HR 2387 or S 1194.

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