New Legislation Proposed
In May 2007, I wrote letters to U.S. Senators detailing what happened to Larry and asked for their assistance. Thank God that we have in Washington conscientious public servants who respond to the needs of American citizens, like the senators who introduced the legislation described below, which should improve the way mentally ill prisoners are treated while under incarceration. We applaud their efforts and hope that other representatives will give support and that our president will not veto the bill.
Whereas improved prison conditions for the mentally ill is a positive step, we must continue to advocate for quality mental hospitals to be opened in substantial numbers throughout the country. Larger budgets for jails will improve screening, identification, and assessment of mentally ill inmates, but what will be done for these sick prisoners once they are identified? Life as a convict with better trained guards? TO DECRIMINALIZE MENTAL ILLNESS, WE MUST CREATE ADEQUATE HOSPITAL SPACE FOR THOSE SICK PERSONS WHO REQUIRE EXTENDED CONTAINMENT AND PSYCHIATRIC CARE.
The following excerpt was taken from Bazelon Center Mental Health Policy Reporter Vol. VI, Issue 5: http://www.bazelon.org/newsroom/reporter/2007/11-7-07PolicyReporter.htm#2
The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization
and Improvement Act (H.R. 3992 and S. 2304) was introduced by Representatives
Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Senators Edward
Kennedy (D-MA), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and
Arlen Specter (R-PA). The House and Senate versions renew the core
MIOTCRA grant program and increase the authorization from $50 million
to $75 million, while also renewing the mental health courts grant.
The legislation would extend the program to FY 20013. In addition,
the bills provide for new grants in need-based areas, including:
greater law enforcement training; effective treatment of female
prisoners with mental illnesses; statewide planning outreach to
coordinate the treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental
illnesses and provide for new interventions; improved screening,
identification and assessment of mentally ill inmates; and increased
coordination of transitional, post release services.
The current program was funded at $5 million in fiscal year 2006
and $5 million in 2007. Congress has doubled its funding to $10
million for fiscal year 2008 (which began October 1), although
that bill has yet to be approved by the President.
What You Can Do
Contact your Senators and Representative to urge them to support
the bill; see a “Dear Colleague” letter from Reps.
Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Randy Forbes (R-VA). The House Judiciary
Committee is likely to mark up the bill this week and thereafter
it will move to the floor, where every vote will matter.
The following members of the House are sponsors of the bill. If
you are a constituent, call or email a thank you; if not, urge
your Representative to join in supporting H.R. 3992, the Mentally
Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and
Rep. Howard Coble [NC-6]
Rep. Keith Ellison [MN-5]
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee [TX-18]
Rep. Daniel E. Lungren [CA-3]
Rep. Grace Napolitano [CA-38]
Rep. Jim Ramstad [MN-3]
Rep. Jerrold Nadler [NY-8]
Rep. Todd Russell Platts [PA-19]
Rep. Randy Forbes [VA-4]
Rep. William Delahunt [MA-10]
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI-1]
Rep. Bobby Scott [VA-3]
August 15, 2007
Larry's mother and sister have filed suit against The Cochran Firm in United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.