Cornyn Lauds Passage of Mental Health Reforms, 21st Century Cures Act

In: All News   Posted 12/07/2016

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes reforms to the mental health and criminal justice system based on his Mental Health and Safe Communities Act:

“Across the country too many people who suffer from mental illness are languishing in our criminal justice system instead of getting the help they truly need. The 21st Century Cures Act includes reforms to ensure law enforcement can recognize those who need treatment and have the necessary training to avert a crisis in the community before it happens,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Now that this bipartisan legislation has passed the Senate, I’m eager to see it signed into law by the President.”

Background on Mental Health and Safe Communities Act language included in the 21st Century Cures Act:

Increases the Use of Treatment-Based Responses for Mentally-Ill Offenders during Incarceration and Post-Release Custody

  • Allows state and local government to use existing funding to create pre-trial screening and assessment programs to identify mentally ill offenders, provide need-based treatment, and develop post-release supervision plans.
  • Requires the Attorney General to direct federal judges to operate mental health court pilot programs, allowing incarcerated mentally-ill offenders to be diverted from prison to residential treatment facilities or other forms of treatment-based supervised release.
  • Requires state and local governments to use drug court and mental health court funding to develop specialized programs for offenders who have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.
  • Enables existing federal funding to be used to provide treatment, mentoring, and other transitional services to mentally-ill offenders leaving custody.

Facilitates Best Practices on Crisis Response and Prevention for Law Enforcement, Judicial Officials, and Communities

  • Mandates specialized training and requires the use of new technology to ensure federal law enforcement, judicial officials, and uniformed services personnel are properly equipped to respond to individuals with mental illness and mental health crises.
  • Allows state and local governments, including school officials, to use existing federal grant funding to expand the use of Crisis Intervention Teams, who are trained to respond to mental health crises and prevent acts of violence.
  • Empowers families to intervene and help prevent mental health crises by providing additional resources for judicially-administered Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs.