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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

MIOTCRA Reauthorization Introduced in Congress

February 1, 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments
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senator al franken introduces miotcra reauthorization

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

New legislation introduced this month in Congress would reauthorize and expand the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA).

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (S. 162/H.R. 401) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Al Franken and 19 bipartisan cosponsors, and in the House by Congressmen Richard Nugent and 9 bipartisan cosponsors. This legislation is designed to:

  • Continue support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams, both of which save lives and money;
  • Emphasize evidence-based practices that have been proven effective through empirical evidence;
  • Authorize investments in veterans treatment courts, which serve arrested veterans who suffer from PTSD, substance addiction, and other mental health conditions;
  • Support the development of curricula for police academies and orientations;
  • Increase focus on corrections-based programs, like transitional services that reduce recidivism rates and screening practices that identify inmate with mental health conditions; and
  • Give local officials greater control over program participation eligibility.

Congressman Nugent said in a statement that “after 37 years in law enforcement, I have seen far too many tragedies result from mental health needs that went either unnoticed, untreated, or misunderstood… This legislation will help give law enforcement the tools and training they need to improve the way that our legal system interacts with individual suffering from mental health crises.”

Senator Franken noted that the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act would “make our communities safer and stronger by helping our justice and mental health systems work together to provide better access to treatment for people who need it. It will also ensure that law enforcement officers stay safe when they are responding to mental health crises.”

The bills have been referred to the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary, where they await a hearing.