Law would boost mental health help in county jails

March 4, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — County jails could get more help addressing mental health and substance abuse under a Republican lawmaker’s legislation.

Two bills sponsored by Republican Rep. Richard Malaby are set for committee votes Monday.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in his State of the State address last month that Maine filled its jails after closing a state mental institution. His office didn’t provide comment on Malaby’s bills.

Malaby proposes requiring mental health and substance abuse screening of defendants to make sure individuals needing treatment receive it. He also wants the state to collect data about arrests, mental health calls and efforts to divert people from jail.

He’s also calling for privately contracted mental health services in jails. He said such contracts would have clauses making sure providers are keeping individuals out of jail.

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