John Rutherford Backs Proposal Helping Law Enforcement Work Closer With Mental Health Providers

A congressman from the First Coast is looking to help law enforcement work with community mental health providers to help criminals reenter society.

At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., announced his support for U.S. Rep. David Trone’s, D-Mary., “Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act.” Other backers include U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Penn., Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn., Mary Gay Scanlon, DP and Kelly Armstrong, R-ND.

“The Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act of 2020, would help law enforcement partner with mental health providers to provide incarcerated individuals community care as they transition back into society. This care includes medication assisted treatment, community-level crisis response programs, and technical assistance to develop innovative training and treatment for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals suffering from mental illness. Recidivism rates decline when we address the mental health challenges that place formerly incarcerated individuals at risk of reoffending,” Rutherford’s office noted.

Rutherford, who rose to serve as sheriff of Duval County, said his background in law enforcement helped lead him to support the bill.

“When I served as director of corrections in Duval County, I knew the prison system was the largest residential mental health facility in Northeast Florida,” said Rutherford. “We learned that we were able to reduce recidivism by offering inmates continued care after their release from prison. Today’s legislation enhances coordination between law enforcement officials and mental health professionals by authorizing federal grants to provide treatment options for individuals with mental illness as they transition from incarceration back into the community.”

“We are facing a mental health crisis in America, and our incarcerated citizens are not exempt from this crisis,” said Trone. “This bill helps ensure that incarcerated individuals get the holistic treatment they need while in prison and that they are prepared with the resources they need to succeed as healthy and productive members of their communities. I’m grateful to my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle for coming together to make much-needed improvements to our mental health care and criminal justice systems.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary CommitteeU.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex. and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., are championing the bill in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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