Half of all people killed by police suffer from mental illness and about 25% of our jails and prisons are filled with non-violent offenders who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Jails and prisons hold ten times as many individuals with mental illness than hospitals and are often the largest providers of mental health services.
We let Congress know that our jails and prisons are not mental health facilities and should not be treated as such.
Last year, members of Congress, in both the House and the Senate, joined together to pass the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act (CJMHA). With 26 Democrats and 21 Republicans co-sponsoring the bill, it was the first bill #cut50 sponsored (announced at our Bipartisan Summit) and the only bipartisan criminal justice bill that passed in last year's session.
The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) aims to improve responses to people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system by supporting and enhancing law enforcement training, mental health and veterans treatment courts, resources for corrections systems, and other collaborative approaches. The #CJMHA helps to fund alternatives to incarceration for the mentally ill and expand training for law enforcement so they can better respond to emergencies involving someone with a mental health crisis.
We also partnered with Stepping Up, an unprecedented national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in county jails. Stepping Up brings county leaders together with state officials, criminal justice and behavioral health professionals, people with mental illnesses, and other stakeholders to take real action at the local level.