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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: March 15, 2013 02:03 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution to Study Mental Health Treatment of Inmates and Others
I believe the time is ripe for a resolution calling on the Joint State Government Commission to study the overall picture of mental illness, and the myriad ways in which we contend with it statewide, especially in the area of corrections. If you share my views, I cordially invite you to join me in co-sponsoring such a resolution which will be introduced very soon.

Recently, estimates from the state Department of Corrections were that up to 40% of women inmates, and 20% of male state inmates were suffering some form of serious diagnosable mental illness. And this is just state prisoners who number well over fifty thousand at present. Thousands more are incarcerated at the county level, for which no estimate is made. Further, the current Mental Health Procedures Act is over thirty-five years old. Science regarding the mentally ill has advanced considerably during that time.

During the last two decades, the mentally ill whose behavior brings them into the criminal justice system have not fared well in terms of receiving treatment for their problems, which studies have recently shown if obtained early on, a virtual lifetime of adverse consequences may be avoided. In short, I believe our prison system should not be our mental health delivery system as well. Our better efforts to deal with these issues early will ultmiately benefit us all many times over.

Introduced as HR226