WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) led a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize critical grants for mental health courts, crisis intervention teams, and other programs that have helped law enforcement assist individuals experiencing mental illness for nearly two decades. They were joined by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
“For more than five years, these grants have been supporting law enforcement as they assist individuals suffering from mental illness in our criminal justice system and on our streets,” said Sen. Cornyn. “We cannot let these important programs that have given help and hope to so many lapse, and I’m grateful to my colleagues for joining with us on this.”
“As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand how public safety is improved by collaboration between law enforcement and mental health providers,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that we have the training and resources to address mental health issues at all stages of the justice system, from equipping law enforcement to effectively respond to mental health calls to facilitating smooth reentry into society. It’s critical that our justice system provides people with the support they need.”
“Encouraging treatment and supporting those struggling with mental health challenges in the criminal justice system is critical in improving outcomes for those individuals, protecting public safety and supporting our police officers. This legislation updates successful initiatives, such as mental health courts, crisis intervention teams and training for law enforcement. These programs have proven effective in the past, and Congress’s continued support can save lives. I look forward to working with Sen. Cornyn to make this bipartisan bill law,” said Sen. Grassley.
“By taking a holistic approach to criminal justice, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program has been a lifeline for many individuals struggling with their mental health. We’ve seen JMHCP initiatives – like crisis intervention teams, mental health courts, and training for local police – significantly improve the outcomes for people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders, and it’s essential that these programs remain up and running,” said Sen. Durbin. “Today’s bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act ensures that individuals have access to these options and expands mental health crisis resources to address each emergency call appropriately.”
“When police encounter people facing mental health crises, arrest and incarceration aren’t always right,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “This legislation will equip communities, local law enforcement, and others with resources to work with people in crisis and keep our first responders and communities safe. I’m glad to partner with Senator Cornyn on another smart, bipartisan reform to our criminal justice system.”
“Law Enforcement Officers frequently encounter individuals experiencing mental health illness and we must provide them the necessary tools to provide assistance. The JMHCP will also ensure that grant funding is available for our veteran treatment programs and mental health courts to ensure individuals have accessible treatment and support services,” said Sen. Tillis. “I am proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation that will reauthorize these important grants that directs resources for those individuals in need.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health challenges and substance use disorders across our communities. As we recover from this public health crisis, it is critical that our local communities have the resources they need to support individuals battling mental health issues,” said Sen. Collins. “By reauthorizing the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, this bill would help increase law enforcement training and strengthen crisis intervention programs to help provide individuals with mental health disorders with the appropriate treatment and services.”
“This bipartisan legislation will help state and local governments more effectively respond to and treat individuals experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “By taking proactive, commonsense steps to provide 24/7 meaningful crisis intervention and other critical mental health services like the 988 crisis hotline, we can help keep Nevadans safe.”
The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) and make several improvements to provide grantees with greater options to respond and treat individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The bill would:
- Support mental health courts and veterans treatment programs;
- Support programs that offer specialized training for public safety officers and mental health providers;
- Support co-responder teams that deploy mental health professionals with law enforcement and allow a 24/7, 365 response capability;
- Enhance community capacity and linkage to care systems to ensure continuity of care and connection to mental health and substance use disorder crisis services;
- And allow jurisdictions to integrate suicide prevention programs in jails and detention facilities.
In 2004, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) created the JMHCP to help states and counties design and implement collaborative efforts between criminal justice and mental health systems. JMHCP grants have funded mental health courts and other court-based initiatives, diversion and deflection programs, crisis intervention teams, training for local police departments, and other programs to improve outcomes for people with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system. JMHCP has provided a total of 568 grants to 49 states along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa.
JMHCP was most recently reauthorized in 2016 as the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act, which was introduced by Sen. Cornyn. Provisions from this bill were signed into law as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act is supported by the National Criminal Justice Association, American Correctional Association, American Legion, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), National Association of Social Workers (NASW), National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Mental Health America (MHA), Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Psychological Association, National Association of Counties (NACo), Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH), Correctional Leaders Association, American Jail Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.