This week, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would, among other things, address the prevalence of people in U.S. jails and prisons who are suffering from mental illness. The “21st Century Cures” Bill encompasses the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which authorizes funding for services related to mental health in the criminal justice system, which includes services such as identification, treatment centers, crisis response and intervention, reentry and transition assistance, and mental health courts.
A recent study reveals that more than half of all inmates in jails and state prisons suffer from a mental illness of some kind. From a recent Atlantic article: Currently, though, what we have are prison dorms packed with people who are anxious, depressed, manic or hearing things. As the Bazelon Center puts it: “No rational purpose is served by the current system.”
The measures outlined in the “Cures” bill would support the expansion of bipartisan initiatives that would address mental health illnesses in our jails and prisons.
In addition, the bill will help connect individuals with reentry services, helping to improve transition into the community and reducing recidivism rates.
At Better Futures Minnesota, we believe addressing these issues is critical to ensuring reentry, building healthier lives, and growing a community of men who are self-sufficient, good fathers, and strong members of the community. We know that compassionate, integrated care rebuilds lives. That’s why we work to address mental health issues and promote housing stability; health and wellness engagement; workforce development; and life coaching and compassionate care. Through our evidence-based integrated-care model, we can work to reaffirm each man’s dignity and instill the self-discipline and behaviors that are a prerequisite to self-sufficiency.
We are grateful proposed legislation will address the ongoing mental health crisis and support criminal justice reform.