NAPO Washington Reports

Sign-On Letter for Justice and Mental Health

June 17, 2013

As has been noted in previous Washington Reports, NAPO has made reauthorization of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (JMHCA) a top legislative priority for the 113th Congress, as the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) helps criminal justice and mental health agencies work collaboratively towards better outcomes.  The JMHCP can help law enforcement agencies across the United States in their responsibilities in assisting those, and dealing with, citizens with mental health issues.

The JMHCA is scheduled for a mark-up on June 20, 2013.  As NAPO continues to work closely with its counterparts to advocate for this legislation, we would be most grateful if your organization considered signing on to the JMHCA National Reauthorization sign-on letter (below).

If you would like to sign-on to the letter, please contact the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Manager of Government Affairs, Mr. Jay Nelson, at:  (202) 624-7842 or jnelson@csg.orgThe deadline for signing on to the letter is close of business on June 18, 2013.

If you have any questions about this legislation, please do not hesitate to contact Melissa Nee at:

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chair              The Honorable Charles E. Grassley

Chair, Committee on the Judiciary                 Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building              152 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                  Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Bob Goodlatte                       The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.

Chair, Committee on the Judiciary                 Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary

2318 Rayburn House Office Building            B-351C Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515                                  Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers:


Our diverse organizations represent law enforcement officers, judges, court personnel, corrections officers, policymakers, faith-based leaders, and mental health professionals. We come together to ask you to support S.162/H.R. 401, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act.  This bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Congressman Richard Nugent (R-FL), is vitally important to the criminal justice and mental health fields. 


Individuals with mental health conditions are significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice system.  In a recent five-site study of people in U.S. jails, 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women had a serious mental illness—rates in excess of three to six times those found in the general population.  Taken together, these numbers comprise 16.9 percent of the jail population.  About three-quarters of jail prisoners who were identified as having a mental illness also met the criteria for substance abuse or dependence. 

In 2004, Congress passed the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), which supports collaborative programs that address the needs of justice-involved individuals with mental health conditions.  MIOTCRA enhances public safety by funding training for law enforcement officers on how to identify and respond to incidents involving people with mental illnesses, increasing mental health courts nationwide, improving collaboration between criminal justice and mental health systems, and improving access to effective treatment.  Across the nation, the initiative supports more than 300 jurisdictions, including four dozen mental health courts and more than two dozen police departments.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act reauthorizes and improves this critically important program.  In addition to extending the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration program for five years, the bill provides additional resources for veterans treatment courts, increases focus on resources and training for jails and prisons, and provides innovative training at police academies.  This important legislation will ensure that state and local governments can continue to design and implement sound initiatives that improve the criminal justice system, increase public safety, reduce state and local spending, and help individuals with mental illnesses. 

Please support S.162/H.R.401, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act.