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
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
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.▪