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Calley signs bills to help mentally ill with treatment, not jail time

Thursday, March 6, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today signed legislation to facilitate more treatment options for people suffering from mental illness.

Senate Bill 558 requires county law enforcement and community mental health service programs, in coordination with courts and other key local partners, to create policies and practices that would provide mental health treatment and assistance to individuals with mental illness.

Specifically, the policies and practices created would focus on individuals who are considered at risk of:

  • Entering the criminal justice system;
  • Not receiving needed mental health services during incarceration in a county jail;
  • Not receiving needed mental health treatment services upon release or discharge from a county jail, and
  • Being committed to the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections.

“It is important for communities to come together and create a plan for providing individuals with mental illness the services and treatments they need. The policies and practices created have the potential to yield more effective long-term solutions that are also more cost-effective for taxpayers,” said Calley. “Through treatment, we can help those with mental illness overcome underlying problems, which may reduce recidivism and help them to lead better lives. It’s a comprehensive form of smart justice that will make Michigan healthier and safer.”

A companion measure, SB 557, grants funding flexibility for local community mental health service programs to provide mental health services to the in-jail population.

The bills, sponsored by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, are now Public Acts 28 and 29 of 2014.

The legislation complements the work of the Mental Health Diversion Council, which Calley chairs. The council, housed within the Department of Community Health, adopted an action plan with steps to ensure that offenders with mental health or substance use disorders receive appropriate treatment rather than jail time. Calley also chairs the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission.

A significant percentage of individuals in Michigan’s criminal justice system suffer from either undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues. While the Department of Corrections provides mental health services to these individuals, at the county level, mental health services are often provided on a limited basis and without a comprehensive treatment option. These new diversion procedures will help address the problem earlier.

Last December, Calley signed legislation to expand Michigan’s mental health court program. That program is focused on reducing the number of offenders suffering from serious mental health or substance abuse disorders who commit subsequent crimes.

Article V Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.

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