Federal Legislation Supports Dane County Priorities for Criminal Justice/Mental Health Reform

With passage of the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015 , grants would become available to meet needs identified by the criminal justice workgroups appointed by the Dane County Board of Supervisors last spring.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn), one of two senators who introduced the bill, said, “We’re using jails and prisons as a substitute for a properly functioning mental health system.  This is a problem–it’s causing overcrowding in our correctional facilities and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.”

The bill would authorize funds for a “sequential intercept” model, which provides interventions for dealing with people with mental illness at various stages of the criminal justice process.  It would also provide grants for emergency and crisis services, alternatives to jail and training for police.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate with strong bipartisan support.  As of March, it had 92 cosponsors (52 Democrats and 40 Republicans) in the House of Representatives.  James Sensenbrenner (R) is the only Wisconsin representative listed as a co-sponsor.  Write Rep. Mark Pocan to express support for H.R.1854.

 

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