A congressman from the First Coast helped get a bill having law enforcement work with community mental health providers to help criminals reenter society over the finish line on Capitol Hill.
Back in February, 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.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex. and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., championed the bill in the U.S. Senate and were able to get it through the upper chamber without opposition last month. On Wednesday, the House passed the Senate version of the bill.
Rutherford weighed in after the measure cleared the House this week.
“Today, the House passed the Senate version of the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, which I introduced with Representative David Trone,” Rutherford noted. “Throughout my time in law enforcement, I saw many individuals re-offend time and time again, often with the same offenses involving substance abuse and issues with mental health.
“This bipartisan legislation will prevent a lapse in care between prison and society, and instead create a ‘Continuity of Care’ for those at greatest risk of relapse. I look forward to this bill becoming law, as it will save lives, save money, and reduce crime,” he added.
The bill now heads to the White House.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.