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Advocacy Spotlight: State Legislation Related to Criminalization

In the spring and summer of 2008, NAMI National sent a survey to the executive directors of our state organizations and large affiliates asking them to provide information regarding important legislation that passed in their states in the last 5 years.  A total of 24 individuals responded to our survey.  We are deeply grateful for the busy NAMI state and local executives who took time to share this information with their colleagues. 

Below are responses relevant to the criminal justice system. We provide a summary and link to each in the hopes that this will provide some ideas for proactive legislation to improve the condition of people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system.            

LegislationIncarcerated Individuals with Mental Illness, HB281/SB791 (2007)  
State: Maryland
: This bill mandates that incarcerated individuals with mental illness must receive the appropriate evaluation as well as 30 days medication upon discharge. In addition, this bill promotes the establishment of an electronic medical record sharing initiative to streamline access to mental health services for incarcerated consumers. 

LegislationSpecial Housing Units (2008)    
State: New York
: Provides that inmates with serious mental illness be placed in on-site mental health treatment facilities rather than solitary confinement or special housing units.

LegislationOffenders Apply for Public Benefits, HB1046 (2008)
State: Colorado
Section One of this bill provides that 120 days prior to release, the guardian of a juvenile who is receiving medical services in a facility must be provided with the information and paperwork necessary to access medical assistance immediately upon release. Section 2 of this bill specifies the same requirements for adults.

LegislationJail Inmate Application Assistance, SB07 (2008)
State: Colorado
Summary: Through grants for a new demonstration project, this bill encourages relationships between healthcare, housing and employment institutions, including
community mental health centers, to collaborate in assisting persons being released from jail so that individuals are less likely to reenter the criminal justice system.  It also provides for training of state personnel to assist inmates in applying for public benefits.

LegislationCrisis Intervention Training (CIT), Budget Bill HB2010 (section 10.210) (2008)        
State: Missouri
: Appropriates approximately $266,000 to fund Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for police officers and training for judges.

Adapted from NAMI’s Statehouse Spotlight e-newsletter. Information about state legislation in other areas of interest is available  here.