ERIC Number: ED477549
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Mar
Building Bridges: An Act To Reduce Recidivism by Improving Access to Benefits for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities upon Release from Incarceration. Model Law and Commentary.
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington, DC.
Mental health advocates have been distressed for years about the disproportionate number of people with psychiatric disabilities who are arrested or held in jail or prison. Equally disturbing is the endless cycle of recidivism that results when people with psychiatric disabilities are released with their needs unmet. The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently completed two years of study and meetings of hundreds of individuals involved in criminal justice or mental health systems at the state and local levels. As the CSG found, "individuals with mental illnesses leaving prison without sufficient supplies of medication, connections to mental health and other support services, and housing are almost certain to decompensate, which in turn will likely result in behavior that constitutes a technical violation of release conditions or a new crime." This cycle can be broken, by ensuring that inmates with psychiatric disabilities have immediate access to the mental health services, housing and other supports they need to avoid rearrest. "Building Bridges" offers an approach that states can use to afford recently released inmates with psychiatric disabilities a successful transition to community life and provides a legislative template for enacting such policies. A summary of the model law is presented to provide a broad overview. In the succeeding sections, the text of the proposed legislation is paired with a commentary with background and explanation to assist advocates and policymakers in working to adapt the model to their state. The commentary highlights potential issues, explains the choices made as the language was drafted and provides references to helpful sources and supplementary materials. (GCP)
Descriptors: Laws, Mental Disorders, Models, Prevention, Prisoners, Psychiatric Services, Recidivism
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, 1101 15th St, NW, Suite 1212, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-467-5730; Fax: 202-223-0409; Web site: www.bazelon.org. For full text: http://www.bazelon.org/issues/criminalization/publications/buildingbridges/BuildingBridges.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington, DC.