April 20, 2015 The Honorable Brian Maienschein

April 20, 2015
The Honorable Brian Maienschein
California State Assembly, 77th District
State Capitol, Room 4139
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE:
SUPPORT FOR AB 618—Parole: primary mental health clinicians.
Dear Assemblymember Maienschein:
NAMI California is pleased to support AB 618, which would the independent professionals consulting in
the parole hearing of a prisoner with a serious mental illness to, at the request of the prisoner, consult with
a prisoner’s primary mental health clinician before making a recommendation concerning that prisoner. It
would also require the Board of Parole Hearings, at the request of the prisoner, to consult with a
prisoner’s primary mental health clinician if the board considers a Psychological Risk Assessment as part
of the board’s determination of whether to set, postpone or rescind a parole release date of a prisoner
under a life sentence.
NAMI California is the state’s organization of the country’s largest mental health advocacy organization,
the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Our 19,000 members and 62 affiliates include people living with
serious mental illnesses, their families and supporters. NAMI California advocates on their behalf,
providing education and support to its members and the broader community.
More than 450,000 Americans with a recent history of mental illnesses are incarcerated in US jails and
prisons. This includes 24% of state prison inmates.1 Of these, about 72% have a co-occurring substance
abuse disorder.2 By comparison, about 6% of the general population has a serious mental illness.3
Humane and effective treatment for serious mental illness while in correctional settings is the
constitutional right of inmates with serious mental illness. Treatment is most effective when the
consumer’s primary mental health clinician is part of the treatment team. Additionally, mental health
systems have ultimate responsibility for treating all people with severe mental illness.
When criminal custody determinations are being made, an individual’s mental illness and access to
treatment must be considered. To ensure that decisions best serve the individual, the correctional system,
and the community, it is essential that members of the individual’s treatment team with the best
knowledge of the individual’s mental illness are consulted. Independent professionals should consult with
1
James, D, and Glaze, L. (2006). “Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. US Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics.” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report.
2
Ditton, P M. (2006). “Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers.” US Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 174463
3
Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. (2005). “Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month
DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R).” Archives of General Psychiatry,
62(6):617-27.
1850 Heritage Lane, Suite 150, Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 567-0163 phone (916) 567-1757 fax
the individual’s primary mental health clinician, and should consult other available information, such as
family members, when possible.
For these reasons, we support AB 618 and urge its passage. If you have questions, please contact Kiran
Savage-Sangwan, NAMI California Legislation and Public Policy Analyst at (916) 567-0163 or
[email protected]
Sincerely,
Jessica Cruz, MPA/HS
Executive Director
NAMI California
Kiran Savage-Sangwan
Legislation and Public Policy Analyst
NAMI California
1850 Heritage Lane, Suite 150, Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 567-0163 phone (916) 567-1757 fax
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