Thursday, January 24, 2008

U.S. House Passes Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act

Yesterday, January 23, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act (MIOTCRRIA), H.R. 3992.

Here's a statement from leaders of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, which appears in the January 2008 newsletter of the Consensus Project.

"Leaders of the Council of State Governments Justice Center laud Members of the U.S. House of Representatives for passage yesterday of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act (MIOTCRRIA), H.R. 3992.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), will make a significant commitment to addressing the needs of both the criminal justice system and individuals with mental illnesses who come into contact with it.

'The passage of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act illustrates the extraordinary bipartisan consensus that exists among elected officials to increase the accessibility of integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment, and to promote collaborative efforts between criminal justice and mental health agencies,' said Dr. James S. Reinhard, Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and a Justice Center board member.

This legislation, which has received strong support in both the House and the Senate, will reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA). Enacted in 2004, MIOTCRA created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Grant Program designed to help states and counties design and implement coordinated efforts between criminal justice and mental health systems. Through appropriated funds, the Bureau of Justice Assistance within the Department of Justice has awarded 53 communities in 35 states with additional resources to plan and implement collaborative efforts between criminal justice and mental health systems.

The new bill will raise the authorization level of MIOTCRA from $50 million per year to $75 million per year and will extend the authorization through 2013. The bill will also reauthorize the mental health courts grant program, and require a study to be completed on the prevalence of mental illness in prisons and jails. Download the complete bill text (pdf).

'Reauthorizing MIOTCRA will provide much-needed support to states and local governments across the country. Every state is now seeking to design, implement, and expand initiatives that will improve the response to people with mental illnesses in contact with the criminal justice system. Front-line professionals, like corrections and police officers, are telling us that this will increase public safety, reduce state spending, and save lives,' said Justice Center board member and Connecticut State Representative Michael Lawlor. 'We urge the Senate to take swift action in support of this bill.'"

Earlier coverage of this legislation is available here and here.

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