Scanlon Helps Pass Bill to Support Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Individuals
Yesterday, Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) helped to pass The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill led by Representative David Trone (D-MD), which would support mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals.
This bill, which unanimously passed the House, was introduced with original co-sponsors Representatives John Rutherford (R-FL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-RI).
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 7 individuals incarcerated in state and federal prisons and 1 in 4 individuals in jails self-reported experiences of serious psychological distress. The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act would allow for correctional institutions to partner with mental health providers to provide mental health treatment and crisis stabilization for incarcerated individuals and promote warm handoffs to community-based care upon reentry.
“Far too often, we criminalize mental health challenges in our country,” Rep. Scanlon said. “This is a small step in breaking that cycle by ensuring people have the resources they need to successfully re-enter society. I am grateful to my colleague, Rep. Trone, for this leadership on this important issue and look forward to this critical piece of legislation becoming law.”
“We are facing a mental health crisis that has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and incarcerated populations are bearing the brunt of it due to the lack of social distancing and safety measures,” said Rep. Trone. “Every American deserves access to high-quality mental health care, and this bill will help us make this a reality by ensuring that incarcerated individuals can access treatment should they need it.”
“In my time as a district judge, I often handled the cases of reoffenders who were suffering from untreated mental illness or substance abuse, conditions which made it nearly impossible for them to successfully reintegrate into society following incarceration,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act will ensure we provide these men and women with treatment and tools for their long-term recovery upon their release from a correctional facility. Ensuring continuity of mental health care improves the success rate of reentry, which is critical to reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and saving taxpayer dollars.”
“For far too many the criminal justice system is the end point of a mental health crisis,” Rep. Dean said. “This bill works to break that cycle by providing formerly incarcerated individuals with the medication they need to build a stable footing as they reenter society.”
“Throughout my time in law enforcement, I saw many individuals re-offend time and time again, often with the same offenses involving substance abuse and issues with mental health,” said Rep. Rutherford. “That’s why I was proud to join my colleague Representative Trone to introduce the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, which passed the House today. This bipartisan legislation will prevent a lapse in care between prison and society, and instead, create a ‘Continuity of Care’ for those at greatest risk of relapse. I look forward to this bill becoming law, as it will save lives, save money, and reduce crime.”
“Ensuring the strong mental health and wellbeing of those incarcerated is an important step in helping them prepare to re-enter our communities,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong. “The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act builds on efforts to lower recidivism and provides real criminal justice reform that better serves our nation and helps connect formerly incarcerated individuals to the resources they need.”
The bill, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-RI), passed the Senate on November 16th and now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
An overview of the legislation can be found here.