J O I N T R E S O L U T I O N
CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY SERVICES TO PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
WHEREAS, The General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island recognizes that serious and persistent mental illness is a major health concern, particularly in view of the 1999 report of the Surgeon General of the United States; and
WHEREAS, The State of Rhode Island has a proud history of caring for and providing services to its most needy citizens; and
WHEREAS, The availability of mental health services to certain populations has been experienced as a very real challenge both nationally and state-wide; and
WHEREAS, There are especially vexing problems that face persons with serious and persistent mental illness who become involved in the correctional system, as evidenced by the statistical report of the Bureau of Justice which indicated that at least sixteen percent (16%) of inmates have made use of mental health services; and
WHEREAS, Persons with serious and persistent mental illness who become incarcerated often experience attendant problems of homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, and a higher propensity for violence; and
WHEREAS, It is incumbent upon the State of Rhode Island to determine the number of individuals with serious and persistent mental illness already in or having the potential to be in the correctional system and correspondingly to determine the type and range of service that are needed; now therefore be it
RESOLVED, That a special legislative commission be and the same is hereby created consisting of fifteen (15) members: three (3) of whom shall be from the House of Representatives, not more than two (2) from the same political party, to be appointed by the Speaker; three (3) of whom shall be from the Senate, not more than two (2) from the same political party, to be appointed by the Majority Leader; one (1) of whom shall be a representative of the Attorney General's office, to be appointed by the Attorney General; one (1) representative each from the following organizations: Rhode Island Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals; Rhode Island District Court; Rhode Island Department of Corrections; Rhode Island Council of Community Mental Health Centers; Mental Health Advocate's Office; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Rhode Island; Manic Depressive and Depressive Association of Rhode Island; and Mental Health Consumer Advocates of Rhode Island.
In lieu of any appointment of a member of the legislature to a permanent advisory commission, a legislative study commission, or any commission created by a General Assembly resolution, the appointing authority may appoint a member of the general public to serve in lieu of a legislator, provided that the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader of the political party which is entitled to the appointment consents to the appointment of the member of the general public.
The purpose of said commission shall be to study: (1) provisions for psychiatric assessment of individuals suffering from serious and persistent mental illness who are in the criminal justice system; (2) provisions for diversion into treatment of those determined to be in need of mental health services; and (3) provisions for transition of such incarcerated individuals into mental health treatment service upon release from custody. The commission shall further determine the nature and extent of unmet needs in the aforesaid areas and shall also determine the funding necessary to enable the Department of Corrections, the Department of Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals, and any other department of state government to collaborate in the provision of such essential services.
Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at the call of the Senate Majority Leader and shall select from among the legislators a chairperson. Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.
The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information, documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
The Joint Committee on Legislative Services is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters for said commission; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly on or before January 20, 2002, and said commission shall expire on January 20, 2003.