MACo: lnmates with Severe Mental Illness Deserve Treatment in Appropriate Facilities

On Monday, March 11, Natasha Mehu testified in support of HB 1204 Involuntary Commitment – Procedures for Admission.

HB 1204 strengthens the process for inmates in need of involuntary commitment, so they may be placed in state facilities or deemed eligible for conditional release for the care they need.

From the MACo Testimony:

HB 1204 authorizes local correctional officials to apply for involuntary admission of an inmate to a state hospital. It also requires that the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) accept inmates in the order in which the applications have been received and prohibits BHA from refusing to admit an inmate based on the source of referral. Additionally, the bill creates a process so that emergency evaluees held in pretrial detention may be conditionally released under a court order for inpatient treatment at a hospital or appropriate facility.

While some progress has been made regarding the prompt placement of certain defendants courtordered into treatment, more must be done. The State must ensure that inmates who meet the criteria for involuntary admission are also promptly and appropriately placed in a state facility, or as allowed under this bill, eligible for conditional release. These individuals are often those with the most severe illness that have manifested or deteriorated during their incarceration and there is no less restrictive form of intervention to address their safety and welfare. 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.

The Senate cross-file, SB 789, was heard on Wednesday.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.