INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed a bill into law that aims to get more offenders into mental health facilities instead of jail.
House Enrolled Act 1006 creates a system for law enforcement officers to refer someone in crisis to mental health treatment. It also sets up a process for some people currently in jail to be transferred to a mental health facility.
“Our typical runs where just a person refusing to leave or a domestic disturbance may involve someone who’s experiencing mental health crisis,” said Lt. Shane Foley of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
IMPD has a system in place to get some people connected to treatment, Foley said. But inevitably, others wind up in the Marion County Jail.
“About 40% of people in our custody suffer from some form of mental illness, and about 60% of people incarcerated today suffer from some form of addiction,” said Col. James Martin of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
The new law aims to improve access to emergency detention services for people suffering from mental health issues by ensuring hospital costs are covered. And judges can decide whether current inmates should be transferred to a care facility.
“We know this is going to be a long-term, a three- or four-year rollout, to be fully implemented,” said State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon).
That’s because the state has to be able to treat those in need.
“I think we have some capacity-building to do,” said Stephanie Anderson, COO of Mental Health America of Indiana, which helped craft the legislation.
The new two-year state budget provides $10 million to create inpatient services for offenders.
Officials are still working to determine what that care will look like, Anderson said.
“We have to see what the state comes up with in terms of facilities and who will operate it and how we can do it economically to make that happen,” she explained.
Indiana’s next budget also includes another $100 million to strengthen the state’s response to mental health emergencies. That includes funding for the 988 crisis lifeline and community mental health centers.