Legislator: Quicker evaluations help rehabilitation in jails, prisons
The state House today approved legislation by state Rep. Klint Kesto calling for strict timelines for mental health evaluations in Michigan’s jails and prisons, following several hearings before the House Law and Justice Committee and House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force.
The assessments will provide early intervention and improved access to psychological evaluation, using innovative ideas for mental health treatment in order to be smart on crime and soft on taxpayers.
“Individuals facing charges or due for possible release from prison must get a psychological evaluation in a timely and reasonable manner,” said Kesto, who chairs the Law and Justice Committee. “Our criminal justice system has to address mental health problems quickly because it does little for the individual, the inmate population or the system to not be treating these issues.”
- Require for psychological examinations to take place within 45 days of a court order to measure the ability to stand trial;
- Allow a one-time 15-day extension to evaluate an individual’s mental competence to stand trial;
- Require a psychological examination be done within 45 days of a parole hearing.
Today’s vote advances the first legislation submitted in response to the findings by the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force. With Kesto serving as co-chair, the task force traveled the state listening to people affected by mental health services while also touring health care and criminal justice facilities.
The Law and Justice Committee also had numerous hearings to promote safe and secure rehabilitation in the state’s jails and prisons.
“Rehabilitation in our prisons and jails needs to be improved because we heard in both the task force and the committee hearings about the growing need to identify mental health issues before someone faces trial, goes to prison or is released on parole,” said Kesto, of Commerce Township. “Over 20 percent of our state’s inmates have mental health issues, so why not address it while incarcerated? Setting specific timelines will help promote public safety by addressing these issues as quickly as possible while incarcerated, instead of out in the general public.”
House Bills 5243, 5244 and 5246 advance to the Senate for their review.