August 1, 2003
Senate Holds Hearing on Bill Addressing Criminalization of Mental Illness.
On Wednesday, July 30, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate held a hearing on S. 1194, "The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2003". NAMI's Legal Director, Ron Honberg, testified at the hearing in behalf of NAMI and the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, a collaboration among 15 leading national mental health organizations, including consumers, family members, providers and other advocates.
S. 1194 was introduced in June by Senator Mike DeWine (R. Ohio) and is presently co-sponsored by a group of bipartisan colleagues in the Senate including Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R. Utah), Senator Patrick Leahy (D. Vermont), Senator Charles Grassley (R. Iowa), Senator Maria Cantwell (D. Washington), Senator Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico), and Senator Richard Durbin (D. Illinois). A companion bill, HR 2387, was introduced by Representative Ted Strickland (D. Ohio) in the House of Representatives.
S 1194 and HR 2387 would authorize $100 million to establish a grant program at the U.S. Department of Justice that can be used by states and communities to:
- Create jail diversion programs;
- Provide treatment to adults with serious mental illness and juveniles with serious emotional disturbance who are incarcerated;
- Fund cross-training of criminal justice, law enforcement, court and mental health personnel, and;
- Provide mental health services to individuals with serious mental illnesses upon reentry into the community.
Action Needed: Additional sponsors are needed in both the Senate and House. Please contact your U.S. Senators and your Congressman or Congresswoman to urge their support. All Senators and Members of the House can be reached by calling the Capital Switchboard toll free at 1-800-839-5276 or at 202-224-3121, or contact them now online at www.nami.org.
A sample letter can be found at www.nami.org/contactyourrep
Thank you for your continuing advocacy on these important issues