A bill which provides an expedited process for placing defendants unable to stand trial because of serious mental illness into treatment is on the move.
HB 111 sponsored by Delegate Barron passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with amendments and is on the House floor.
MACo supported HB 111 as it addressed the crucial issue of lack of treatment beds and prompt placement of defendants court-ordered into treatment due to serious mental illness. These defendants are often held in jail awaiting a treatment bed — an unfortunate and unacceptable situation that is bad for the defendants in need of treatment and problematic for the jails.
As amended the bill expands the types of facilities the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) may place an individual for treatment, recognizing the efforts the MDH has made to contract with hospitals and other private facilities for beds. Additionally, instead of the court specifying a placement date it sets an “as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days” time frame for placement. Finally, sanctions are limited to any that are reasonably designed to compel compliance, including reimbursement to the jails for holding a defendant beyond 10 days.
As introduced the bill required MDH to place defendants unable to stand trial in a state residential treatment facility by a court-specified date. The court was authorized to issue a range of penalties if it was determined that there was not sufficient reason to delay placement.
A bill sponsored by the MDH, HB 385, established a different process for addressing this issue. It received an unfavorable report in committee.
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