Human Rights Watch urges enactment of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act. The legislation reflects a realization that a criminal justice approach, and particularly incarceration, may be both unnecessary and counterproductive in many cases of nonviolent misconduct by persons with mental illness.

Human Rights Watch urges enactment of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act. The legislation reflects a realization that a criminal justice approach, and particularly incarceration, may be both unnecessary and counterproductive in many cases of nonviolent misconduct by persons with mental illness. In addition, the legislation moves beyond a purely punitive approach to conditions in prisons and jails, recognizing that individuals as well as society are best served when those mentally ill offenders who are behind bars are provided necessary mental health services and programs while incarcerated and post-release support upon release.

U.S. Representative Ted Strickland (D-OH) introduced the bill in the House. With passage by the Senate, Human Rights Watch hopes the House of Representatives will move swiftly to pass it. We urge people to write their representatives to urge them to support the Mentally Ill Offenders Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.