MENTALLY ILL OFFENDER TREATMENT AND CRIME REDUCTION REAUTHORIZATION AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 27, 2008)
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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I don't know if I'd call it a habit, but I find myself again agreeing with the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Zoe Lofgren.
This is a bill that has already passed the House in a similar form, I believe, last January.
I will include my entire statement in the Record.
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I support S. 2304, the Mentally III 0ffender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act. The House passed companion legislation, H.R. 3992, last January.
This important legislation addresses the unique challenges that mentally ill offenders create for our criminal justice system. It is estimated that 16 percent of the prison or jail population in the country suffers from a serious mental illness.
More than one-fifth of jails have no access to any mental health services at all. Many criminal justice agencies are unprepared to meet the comprehensive treatment and needs of individuals with mental illness.
Jails and prisons require extra staff resources for inmates with mental illness. In addition, mentally ill offenders can be affected psychologically by incarceration differently than general population offenders.
H.R. 3992 reauthorizes the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act; encourages early intervention for individuals with mental illness; reauthorizes the mental health courts program; and maximizes diversion opportunities for nonviolent offenders with mental illness and co-occurring disorders.
The legislation also promotes training for treatment professionals on criminal justice processes and mental health and substance abuse issues; establishes State and local planning grants to address the needs of mentally ill offenders; and facilitates communication, collaboration, and the delivery of support services among justice professionals, treatment and related service providers.
I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
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