Senators Introduce Legislation to Help People with Mental Health Needs

April 8, 2022

The Council of State Governments Justice Center applauds members of the U.S. Senate for introducing the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022, a bill that would reauthorize the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). The bipartisan Senate legislation, introduced by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), expands and improves the successful Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) to ensure our criminal justice and mental health systems have the tools they need to serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals.

JMHCP, which is authorized under MIOTCRA, was created by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to improve access to effective treatment for people with mental health needs and to increase public safety.

Joining Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar as original cosponsors are Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Thom Tillis (R-NC); Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL); Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Susan Collins (R-ME); and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

Collectively, state and local governments use these grants for a broad range of activities, including establishing diversion programs and mental health courts, creating or expanding community-based treatment programs, supporting the development of curricula for police academies and orientations, or providing in-jail treatment and transitional services. Additionally, grant funds may be used to train law enforcement to help them identify and improve their responses to people experiencing a mental health crisis. MIOTCRA was reauthorized in 2008 and again in 2016 with bipartisan support.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022 would

  • Strengthen support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams;
  • Support diversion programming and training for state and local prosecutors;
  • Strengthen support for co-responder teams;
  • Support the integration of 988 into the existing public safety system;
  • Amend allowable uses to include suicide prevention in jails and information-sharing between mental health systems and jails/prisons;
  • Amend allowable uses to include case management services and supports; and
  • Clarify that crisis intervention teams can be placed in 911 call centers.

 

The legislation has been endorsed by Addiction Policy Forum, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Jail Association, American Probation and Parole Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Counties, National Association of Police Organizations, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Criminal Justice Association, National District Attorneys Association, National League of Cities, National Sheriffs’ Association, and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, among other organizations.

Photo by trekandshoot via Shutterstock.

About the author


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Jamal Nelson
Director of Governmental Affairs
Jamal Nelson cultivates and maintains relationships with members of Congress and the administration and acts as a liaison to various coalitions and groups to effectively implement the legislative priorities of the CSG Justice Center. Before joining the CSG Justice Center
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in 2009, Jamal served as deputy director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he worked on international trade issues. Jamal received his BS in political science from Southern Connecticut State University.
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