Oct. 7, 2004
NAMI is happy to announce that on Oct.6 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 1194, the "Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004". S. 1194 authorizes grants to states and local communities to foster local collaborations on developing strategies to more effectively respond to non-violent juvenile and adults offenders with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Grants from S. 1194 can be used for a variety of strategies, including jail diversion programs, treatment programs for incarcerated offenders with mental illnesses, community reentry programs, and cross-training of mental health, law enforcement and corrections.
Since there are certain differences between the House and Senate passed versions of S. 1194, the bill will now be sent back to the Senate for a vote on the version passed by the House. It is anticipated that the Senate will vote to adopt the House version. Once this occurs, the bill will be sent to President Bush for his signature. The most notable difference between the two bills concerns the funding level. The Senate bill authorized $100,000 million for three years. The House version of S. 1194 reduced this amount to $50,000 million. To read the House version of the bill, click here. To read the Senate version, click here.
There are a number of Representatives who deserve NAMI's thanks for their strong support of S. 1194. Congressman Ted Strickland (D. Ohio) worked tirelessly with his Ohio colleague, Senator Mike DeWine (R. Ohio) to champion this bill from the moment it was introduced. Special mention must also be given to Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R. Wisconsin), Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D. Michigan), Ranking Minority Member on the Judiciary Commitee for their strong support of this bill. Representatives Howard Coble (R. North Carolina) and Robert C. Scott(D. Virginia) also deserve NAMI's thanks for their strong stewardship of the bill while it was in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee. Representatives Spencer Bachus (R. Alabama) and Lamar Smith (R. Texas) provided great leadership as co-sponsors and key Republican supporters on the House Judiciary Committee. Finally, Representative William Delahunt (D. Massachussetts) worked tirelessly on the Democratic side of the aisle to gain support for S. 1194.
Also, certain key Senate and House staffers did much of the heavy lifting on this bill. These individuals include Rob Steinbuch (Senator DeWine), Katie Shriver (Rep.Strickland), Janetta King (Rep. Strickland), Tim Lynch (Senator Leahy), Katy Crooks (Rep. Coble), Bobby Vassar (Rep. Scott), Christine Leonard (Rep. Delahunt) and Phil Kiko (Rep. Sensenbrenner). Thanks to all of these individuals, as well as many others who may not have been mentioned in this list.Most importantly, thanks to all of you who worked so hard to advocate for this important legislation. There is still more work to be done. The bill must be signed into law and then we must work on getting a good appropriation. That said, this is a remarkably positive step by the U.S. Congress.