Mental Healing for Incarcerated People Act Signed by Governor Edwards

The final version of Rep. Selders’ House Bill 55, aimed to improve treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental health needs, and referred to as “The Mental Healing Justice for Incarcerated People Act,” was signed by the Governor on June 8. It became Act 214 and becomes effective next month.

The new law provides that it is the intent of the legislature that the state allocate funding for the new law to ensure both the access and delivery of quality care for individuals incarcerated within the Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections.

The existing law provides that the Department may establish resources and programs for the treatment of inmates with a mental illness or an intellectual disability, either in a separate facility or as part of other institutions or facilities of the department.

Act 214 amends existing law to make the establishment of resources and programs mandatory.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, “There is no anticipated direct material effect on governmental expenditures as a result of this measure. DPS&CCS states that the proposed¬† law includes provisions already included within a list of services that it provides utilizing existing resources and would have no fiscal impact on expenditures.”

The new law provides for the duties of the department as follows:

(1) Provide screening to persons entering state prison facilities, upon intake, for mental health disorders as defined in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, subject to appropriation by the legislature and the availability of resources.

(2) Refer a person to a facility’s mental health department if at any point during the person’s incarceration, any department staff member suspects that an incarcerated person may have a mental illness.

(3) Provide Mental Health First Aid training to employees on an annual basis, subject to
appropriation by the legislature and the availability of resources.

(4) Utilize trained peer support who have shared lived experiences to augment and enhance mental health services.

(5) Provide an incarcerated person who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, prior to that person’s release, with an appointment or walk-in instructions for a community
mental health provider to ensure continuity of care to the extent that this is feasible and subject to the availability of department and community resources.

 

 

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