SC Mental Health Reform Act of 2014 Proposal

Below is Rehinge’s proposal to South Carolina’s Department of Corrections for mental health reform in its prisons and our state. This proposal is response to SC Judge Michael Baxley’s ruling for the state to present a comprehensive plan for mental health reform in the state’s prison system. While we are presenting this proposal to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the state is still trying to appeal Judge Baxley’s ruling. We still need your help to prevent this appeal from going through, so that SC’s prisons can get the mental health reform that they deserve.

You can also help us by contacting your local SC legislator and presenting these ideas to them. Feel free to share this page, email it, or download and print it out so that we can present this proposal to the state of SC and our leaders. Also, if you have your own ideas, please leave them below in our comment section, or send us an email. Thank you for your continuing support!

The SC Responsible Mental Health Emergency Reform Act of 2014 Proposal

Primary Points

  1. Make all community mental health centers 24 hours and staff hospitals that are half-empty, like Patrick B. Harris.
  2. Require all SC police departments to have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training programs with the goal to give 40 hours of Memphis Model CIT training to all police officers, and also require 15 hours of CIT training at the Academy level as opposed to the current 5 hours.
  3. Expand mental health court beyond the 4 counties in the State. Require all 46 counties to have this program over time.
  4. Create a grant for mental health groups to establish a mentor program for mentally ill individuals when they leave prison, and possibly working with parole.
  5. Apply the standards of care SC prisons have to county jails.

Other Possibilities for the Act

  1. Work with the Department of Education for early awareness in elementary, middle and high schools.
  2. Move to get mental health agencies to work closely with drug and alcohol abuse. 85% of people with a mental health disorder “self medicate”.
  3. Make changes to the criminal statutes to allow judges more leeway when dealing with charges that may have stemmed from a medical mentally ill basis.
  4. Outline that this act will save lives and make our communities safer!
  5. The most important detail I left out of the five primary points is the need for more psych hospital beds. We have gone from 3,500 beds 40 years ago in the state, to only 400 beds in the present, while almost doubling our population. My concern is that if we try to put this in our bill, initially, support for the bill will balk because of the cost.

Summary Statement

The goal of this legislation is to stop the staggeringly expensive and vicious criminal cycle that those suffering from severe mental illnesses often fall into during episodes of their respective medical issues. Through the application of the above concepts, these goals can be achieved.

It is my firm belief that this bill will save South Carolina taxpayers millions of dollars, while not only improving but also saving lives. In turn, our communities will be safer and we will be able to mitigate the risks faced by police officers when dealing with persons suffering from mental health crises.

If the bill acts as intended, it will reduce the number of severely mentally ill prisoners in our corrections system, because it will stop the cycle of incarceration. If, for instance, we reduce the number of mentally ill prisoners by half – from 3500 to 1750 – the state will save more than $30 million annually in corrections costs alone. That figure doesn’t include the ancillary costs of emergency rooms, lawyers, public defenders, courts, police, lawsuits, and most importantly, the cost that you can’t put a figure on, that of human lives.

Proposal Updates

We want to publicly thank Senator Sheheen for introducing S. 426 the Mental Health Court Program Act and Senator Massey for helping the bill advance to the Senate floor! Now we need everyone’s support for funding!

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2 thoughts on “SC Mental Health Reform Act of 2014 Proposal

  1. Improvement of treatment of the mentally in correctional facilities may lead to less crime within the communities and less recidivism rates. Currently, the ratio of help for the mentally ill in correctional facilities between mental health workers and mentally ill inmates are skewed to the point that the mental health workers cannot possibly do their jobs. Compared to other states, South Carolina has less mental health workers, and less programs to correct the “real problems”. There is a difference between mental illness and criminal behavior. Too often, people who only “need help” for a disease they have of: no fault of their own, is turning our correctional facilities into a place to harbor those that will become a part of that system. It is our constitutional right for all men to be treated equally. The chance to help individuals that suffer from mental illness to be a constructive part of society should be a duty to uphold what our county stands for. The phrase “Criminalization of the Mentally Ill” should not exist, and should be taken seriously.