Accelerate Placement of Defendants With Mental Illness

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified in support of House Bill 385, “Criminal Procedure – Incompetency and Criminal Responsibility”, before the House Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2018.

This bill helps to expedite the movement of defendants into mental health facilities from jails after the determination has been made that they are suffering from severe mental illness. By requiring the Maryland Department of Health to place these individuals in a mental health facility within 21 days of a commitment order from the courts, the length of time that the defendants are unnecessarily and unethically left in county jails will be minimized.

From MACo Testimony:

While some progress has been made by the State to address internal processing issues and the lack of beds, more must be done. The State must continue to build on the progress made and take steps to ensure the crisis is abated now and for the future. Due to the severity of their mental illness, holding these inmates in jail longer than absolutely needed is unconscionable. County jails cannot continue to be de facto mental health facilities. Placements must be made in the shortest possible timeframe.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.