Mental Health Diversion Program

Due to inadequate space at mental health facilities across the state, those with severe mental illnesses are often arrested and jailed instead of being admitted to a mental health facility. This is not a best case scenario, as it is shown that the condition of people suffering from mental health issues often deteriorates while sitting in a jail cell. These cases also tax local law enforcement who lack the resources and training required to diagnosis and treat mental health issues. To address these issues, a bill was introduced that would authorize a grant program where counties can develop a comprehensive mental health program. In addition, the bill would fund four centers where law enforcement could bring people they suspect have a mental illness. In the event that a person is charged with a crime connected to their mental illness, a diversion program would be established to focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment. The bill appropriates $8 million to the Department of Health.

STATUS: The bill is in the Finance Committee. (S.F. 141)

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