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February 13, 2020

Reps. Trone, Rutherford, Dean, Reschenthaler, Scanlon, Armstrong, and Senators Cornyn, Blumenthal Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Individuals



Hannah Muldavin (Trone),

Alex Lanfranconi (Rutherford),

Timothy Mack (Dean),

Elise Argall (Reschenthaler),

Gabby Richards (Scanlon),

Brandon VerVelde (Armstrong),

Natalie Yezbick (Cornyn),

Karolina Wasiniewska (Blumenthal),

Reps. Trone, Rutherford, Dean, Reschenthaler, Scanlon, Armstrong, and Senators Cornyn, Blumenthal Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Individuals

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative David Trone (D-MD) along with Representatives John Rutherford (R-FL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-NY), introduced the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020, a bill that would authorize grant money for law enforcement to partner with mental health providers to provide support for mental health services for incarcerated individuals and those returning to society.

The legislation comes as we see bipartisan cooperation around improving our criminal justice system and reducing recidivism for incarcerated individuals. This bill addresses the mental health needs that are often overlooked or inadequately addressed for incarcerated individuals. 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.

“We are facing a mental health crisis in America, and our incarcerated citizens are not exempt from this crisis,” said Rep. Trone. “This bill helps ensure that incarcerated individuals get the holistic treatment they need while in prison and that they are prepared with the resources they need to succeed as healthy and productive members of their communities. I’m grateful to my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle for coming together to make much-needed improvements to our mental health care and criminal justice systems.”

“When I served as Director of Corrections in Duval County, I knew the prison system was the largest residential mental health facility in Northeast Florida,” said Rep. Rutherford. “We learned that we were able to reduce recidivism by offering inmates continued care after their release from prison. Today’s legislation enhances coordination between law enforcement officials and mental health professionals by authorizing federal grants to provide treatment options for individuals with mental illness as they transition from incarceration back into the community.”

“I am dedicated to increasing awareness around mental health and the toll it can take on our communities — and our prisons and jails too often house those who need medical attention but do not receive it in their time of crisis,” Rep. Dean said. “This legislation would remedy that — creating a grant program for state and local law enforcement to tackle the awful relationship between mental health crises and the criminal justice system.”

“When I served as a district judge in southwestern Pennsylvania, many of those who came before my bench were suffering from untreated mental illnesses,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “That’s why I’ve made it a priority to do more for these individuals and address mental health needs in our country. I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill that will give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe, while also ending the revolving door between prison and the streets.”

“Providing long-term mental health solutions to incarcerated individuals is key to reducing recidivism for people with serious mental illnesses,” said Rep. Scanlon. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that will bring more reliable forms of treatment to folks in need, and help to create a more compassionate criminal justice system.”

“The current patchwork of programs is failing to provide consistent treatment for those with mental health needs in the criminal justice system,” said Rep. Armstrong. “Our bill will help reduce recidivism by ensuring continuity of care for individuals during their incarceration and after their release. It’s good policy and it’s the right thing to do.”

“Each day, law enforcement is tasked with overseeing the care of thousands of individuals with mental health issues and working to ensure inmates will be prepared to successfully reenter their communities,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation will help incarcerated individuals get the mental health care treatment they require and assist them in receiving care after leaving the criminal justice system.”

“This measure will help provide prisoners with mental health care vital to their successful return to society,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act would fix the current failings of the system by ensuring dependable access to mental health treatment in their communities to help them stay on track.”

“People coping with a mental health crisis and incarceration face a daunting path forward. The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act addresses their challenges during incarceration and as they seek to reenter the community,” said National Council for Behavioral Health President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia. “The bill ensures that people experiencing a mental health crisis receive appropriate care while in a correctional facility. That includes access to proper medication and additional training for law enforcement officers so they can address the needs of our most vulnerable individuals. The bill also calls for a warm handoff between law enforcement and community mental health clinics upon re-entry into the community to ensure the best possible start. We thank all the original sponsors for their work on this legislation – Representatives David Trone (D-MD), John Rutherford (R-FL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND); Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).”

For more information about the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020, see below:

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

An overview of the legislation can be found here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.