Letters to Lawmakers | Announcement | June 14, 2016

Mental Health Reform Letter to Congress

1,200 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors nationwide sent a letter urging Congress to support mental health reform as a public safety matter

Law enforcement officers are often left to deal with the repercussions of an inadequate mental health system. Untreated mental illness is far too often a factor for those in jails and courtrooms across the country.

That’s why more than 1,200 law enforcement leaders—including police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors—from all 50 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to Congress in support of mental health reform.

In the letter to Congress, the law enforcement members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids specifically call on Congress to promote greater access to mental health prevention and treatment starting in childhood. Their reasoning: improved public safety nationwide.

Of the 1.5 million youth in the juvenile justice system, nearly 70% of them have a diagnosable mental illness.

Leading research indicates that half of all lifetimes cases of mental illness begin by age 14, yet about 80 percent of children receive inadequate treatment.

The law enforcement leaders also supported an amendment by Rep. Cardenas (D-CA), which would enable states to suspend, rather than terminate, a youth’s enrollment in Medicaid while in confinement. This would avoid a potential lapse in mental health care when the juvenile reenters the community. This amendment was later introduced of a standalone bill.

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