S.993/H.R.1854 – Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015 – passed Senate, currently Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations (House). Introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) – primarily reauthorizes and improves the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) of 2004. The legislation would also:
- Continue support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams;
- Expand services to veterans that include treatment court programs, peer to peer services, appropriate services to veterans who have been incarcerated, and training programs for criminal justice, law enforcement and corrections personnel to identify and respond to incidents involving veterans with a mental health condition;
- Make grants to provide broader training during police academies and orientation that teach law enforcement personnel how to identify and respond to incidents involving persons with mental health disorders;
- Would create programs that offer federal first responders and tactical units comprehensive training in procedures to identify and respond appropriately to incidents involving mentally ill individuals;
- Increases focus on prison and jail-based programs;
- Gives local officials greater control over program participation eligibility; and
- Requires annual audits of all grant recipients to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of funds by grantees.
The legislation extends the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act , including support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams; supports efforts to identify people with mental health conditions at each point in the criminal justice system and direct them to appropriate mental health services; specifically directs assistance to veterans with mental health conditions in the justice system; and increases focus on corrections-based programs and supports additional training for law enforcement officials. APA endorses S.993.