Posts tagged "South Carolina"

Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute

August 7th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute”

Here is Paton’s presentation at the Riley Institute last week. He had the honor of speaking along side of others involved with criminal justice system in SC. Together they discussed experiences and possibilities for improving SC’s justice and prison system, including how to better treat mentally ill individuals who may end up in said system.

Police, Prisons, and Public Safety

July 30th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Police, Prisons, and Public Safety”

July 30th, 2015

Paton spoke the other night at the Riley Institute on his past experiences with law enforcement and prisons in South Carolina. He covered his current advocacy work with CIT training and how it has improved the outcomes for police enounters with mentally ill individuals. He was also able to speak on the importance of mental health courts, and how the recent mental health court program act that passed in the SC legislature will help improve the lives mentally ill inmates.

I was incredibly honored to be invited to speak at this event tonight that included the Chief of police from Charleston, the Director of the SCDOC, The Director of The SCPPP, The Sheriff of Richland County and several more distinct advocates in our community including Stuart Andrews of Nelson Mullins. – Paton

The Riley Institute at Furman is also still having presentations for the next couple of weeks on prisons and the justice system in South Carolina! You can learn more about the Riley Institute’s Summer Series on their website, and how to purchase tickets. Straight Talk SC Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell

riley-at-furman-logo

Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series

July 3rd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series”

July 3rd, 2015

On July 28th, Paton will be speaking at Straight Talk SC, Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell, a summer series of presentations put on by the Riley Institute at Furman University, SC.

On the 28th, session moderator Mark Quinn will host a conversation with community members and law enforcement officers looking at the challenges facing police and the communities which they serve. Paton will be among the presenters on this day where he will talk about being arrested and sent to prison due to actions related to Bipolar I Disorder. He will also talk about his recovery work through advocacy for mental health reform, such as pushing for the passing of the Mental Health Court Program Act, and teaching CIT training to local law enforcement.

From the Riley Institute’s Website

It is clear that something is broken in today’s criminal justice system. The massive growth in American prisons over the last four decades has burdened tax payers, overcrowded the prisons, and devastated vulnerable communities. Strong economic arguments as well as compelling compassionate reasons exist for why we can no longer maintain the status quo.

This year’s summer series will examine the data around crime, incarceration and the impact of our existing system of justice on communities, discuss our state’s law enforcement and prison system practices in light of historical and contemporary contexts, and highlight innovative programs that are being implemented in South Carolina.

Stay tuned for more information and coverage of this event in the near future!

Mental Health Court Program Act Passes!

June 2nd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Media 0 thoughts on “Mental Health Court Program Act Passes!”

June 2nd, 2015

Exciting news! The Mental Health Court Program Act, bill S.426, was signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley! This a great victory for South Carolina and mental health reform. The Mental Health Court Program Act will help establish a mental health court program in every county in the state, which will help divert indicted mentally ill people to appropriated mental health programs instead of jails and prisons. We still have a long way to go for mental health reform, but for now we can celebrate this great victory! A HUGE thank you to everyone that helped us get this bill passed! Your calls, emails and support helped make this law a reality; you deserve the greatest thanks for your efforts.

Here’s a word of thanks from Paton:

I just received a call from the Governors office that S.426 The Mental Health Court Program Act was officially signed into law by Governor Haley…. A special huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who wrote emails, made phone calls, shared posts etc to make this happen. I am especially thankful for Vincent Sheheen who authored the bill and for Senator Shane Massey who kept it going with strength. We also could not have done this with out all the help from the media! Thank you Greenville News, Wyff 4, WSPA, WORD Radio, WLTX Columbia , The State News, The Greenville Journal, The Washington Times, The AP, Eric G. Wood, Liz Lohuis Stanislawski , April Morris, Tim Smith, Liv Osby, Gordon Dill, and Joyce Koh. Finally thank you is well deserved for the support of Marie Limnios Dunn-Blough and her team from Redhype with the point person being the fabulous designer, copywriter and web guru Mika Hearn. I thank you all, the NAMI and mental health community thanks you and the entire state thanks you or will some day! And thank you as well to James Hayes, Elaine Hester and Tamar Paltrow Zwerdling.

House Gives Key Approval to Mental Health Courts Bill

May 13th, 2015 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 0 thoughts on “House Gives Key Approval to Mental Health Courts Bill”

May 13th, 2015

Tim Smith wrote a nice piece in the Greenville News this morning about the SC House passing bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act. This is an exciting victory in South Carolina, and we hope to see many more in the coming months and years!

Read the full article in the Greenville News

The House gave key approval Tuesday to a bill to expand the state’s mental health courts.

The 98-2 vote came after no debate.

After a final reading, the bill will head to Gov. Nikki Haley.

Mental health courts divert mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and into treatment programs, much as drug courts do for drug offenders.

Currently, three mental health courts operate in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. Grants for their operation ran out years ago but they have continued to operate, officials say. Two other courts have closed in recent years due to lack of funding.

“It’s nice to see both bodies working together for the greater good of our state,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who proposed the bill last year [….] “Hopefully, this is the beginning of years of mental health reform to come.”

Blough and other supporters for the bill, including Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat who authored the bill, have argued the legislation would save lives and taxpayers’ dollars.

Sheheen’s bill doesn’t include funding but he has said he hopes to eventually find money in the budget to assist the courts.

Read the full article in the Greenville News

S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act Passes the SC House!

May 12th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Media 0 thoughts on “S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act Passes the SC House!”

May 12th, 2015

Exciting news today as the Mental Health Court Program Act has passed the SC House! Today, bill S.426 received a second reading in the SC House of Representatives, and will move on to a third reading before being presented to Governor Nikki Haley to be signed into law! The Mental Health Court Program Act will work towards all 46 counties in South Carolina having a mental health court program, which will help save the lives of mentally ill individuals who by providing a system that diverts mentally ill offenders to appropriate treatment programs instead of jails.

This is a huge step forward for mental health reform in our state. Paton and Rehinge have been working hard towards getting this bill passed, and your efforts of contacting your local legislature politicians has been invaluable as well! We’re looking forward to this bill being signed into law soon!

Quote from SC Representative Dan Hamilton

The SC House just passed S.426 which provides a system to divert mentally ill offenders to appropriate treatment rather than incarceration. Kudos to Paton Blough for his effective citizen-lobbyist effort to get this bill passed. It now goes to the Governor.

Quote from SC Senator Vincent Sheheen

Our Mental Health Court Bill just passed the House of Representatives! This will help the mentally ill get the treatment they need while saving our costs of incarceration. So thankful for all the bipartisan support. Special thanks to Paton Blough for his spark and commitment to this bill.

Climber Scales Table Rock Daily to Push Mental Health Court Bill

April 15th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “Climber Scales Table Rock Daily to Push Mental Health Court Bill”

April 15th, 2015

Paton and Rehinge made the front page of the Greenville News today with a wonderful article written by Liv Osby and photos taken by Heidi Heilbrunn. The article covers Paton’s recent journeys up Table Rock in order to push for SC House support for S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act. This article has great exposure for this bill, and will help bring the issue more into the light in the Upstate. You can learn more about how to support the Mental Health Court Program Act here.

Read the full article on the Greenville News website

day-05-01In 2006 after he was arrested on nonviolent charges, Blough went through mental health court. Though he dealt with a couple of issues since then, he said, he credits the experience with helping him come to grips with his illness.

He got support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the right medication and therapy, he said. And for the past five years, he’s been an advocate for people with mental illness.

The daily climb up Table Rock and back, which he said takes roughly three hours, is the latest effort in that advocacy.

Blough starts out early in the morning on the trek, which begins with a gentle slope along a creek flanked by large mossy rocks before becoming more rugged and elevated in some sections.

“Parts of it are pretty easy,” said the stay-at-home father of six, “though it’s steep in some places and 2,000 vertical feel and a little over 3 miles.”

Sometimes he’s joined by supporters or his children. He believes he can continue until the bill becomes law.

“I recognize I can’t keep it up for a year or whatever,” he said. “But I think I can keep going.”

The bill doesn’t mandate the courts, but it creates a statewide program with the provision that solicitors who take state dollars for such courts must create them within six months. While it doesn’t include any funding, its sponsor Sen. Vincent Sheheen has said he hopes that money will be found in the budget at some point to help.

Blough says that although it comes with no funds, he considers it a leadership bill.

“I can’t say there will be a mental health court in every circuit in the next 12 months, but I think this is significant,” he said. “If it works, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be expanding it in our state.”

Judge Debora Faulkner of Greenville County Probate Court said mental health court is successful because it costs far less than imprisoning someone and it turns their lives around. Since it began, it has accepted 84 participants, she said, and 55 have graduated. There are now eight active participants.

“It’s a way to not only be prudent with tax dollars, but to get people the help that they need and out of that revolving door,” she said. “Those individuals are no longer in the criminal justice system. They are productive members of society.”

Mental health courts operate in Greenville, Charleston and Columbia. Greenville’s began with a grant in 2005, Faulkner said. But for years it’s been operating without any funding because officials believe so much in it.

Probate pays the judge’s time, she said, and other services are provided by Greenville Mental Health and Piedmont Mental Health employees.

“It’s a wonderful program. It’s a savings for the taxpayer, it keeps the jail population down, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see the results,” she said. “They’re all trying so hard. I saw someone have their very first paycheck. And another graduate who has gone on and gotten a master’s in social work.”

Under the system, the solicitor selects the participants, who must meet certain criteria, like being charged with nonviolent offenses such as public disorderly or property crimes and have no past convictions for violent crimes, Faulkner said.

They must attend mental health court weekly along with seeing a case manager and medical professionals, she said. They are also subject to random drug testing and can be terminated if they are rearrested or otherwise violate terms of the program.

And they’re linked to community resources so they can find other help they might need, like employment and housing, she said. Once they graduate, the charges are dropped.

Read the full article on the Greenville News website

Senate Continues to Approve Bill to Expand Mental Health Courts

March 27th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Senate Continues to Approve Bill to Expand Mental Health Courts”

March 27, 2015

mhc-bill-paton-quoteYesterday the SC Senate granted a second reading of the bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act, allowing it to move further into the legislation process. The vote was 40-0 in favor of passing the bill. This is a major step in getting this bill passed in the SC Senate! The bill will be going to a third reading in the Senate probably sometime next week, and after that, it will move on to the House of Representatives. This is an exciting time, and it’s thanks to everyone who contacted their senators to tell them to push forward with this bill.

Now we will need to begin to push forward this bill in the SC House of Representatives so that they will be aware of how the Mental Health Court Program Act will benefit the state, and for them to support it! You can find your local house members by clicking here–we will have more information on this soon. Thank you to everyone again for your support on this bill! SC is moving forward to mental health reform!

Read the full article in the Greenville News

Currently, three mental health courts operate in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. Grants for their operation ran out years ago but they have continued to operate, officials say. Two other courts have closed in recent years due to lack of funding.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who proposed the bill last year. “It’s a bill that I believe will save lives, make the community safer and save taxpayers money.”

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, asked the Senate afterward to thank Blough for his work on the bill.

Sheheen’s bill doesn’t include funding but he has said he hopes to eventually find money in the budget to assist the courts.

The bill was amended to prohibit participation by violent offenders and to require that victims be notified when offenders enter the program.

The legislation does not mandate mental health courts but instead creates a statewide program with the provision that solicitors who accept state dollars for such courts must create them within six months.

“It is purely optional for the solicitors,” Sen. Shane Massey, an Edgefield Republican, told the Senate.

The programs under the bill are operated by each judicial circuit’s solicitor but allows those already in existence that might be operated by a probate judge under a prior court order to continue.

Read the full article in the Greenville News

Read this full article on the WLTX 19 Website

The State Senate voted 40-0 in favor of a bill Thursday that could expand mental health courts across the state.

Mental health courts divert those with mental health issues away from the criminal justice system.

Mental health advocate Paton Blough went through the program and has been pushing for this bill.

“We’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and I’m just so thankful to see all the senators working together to get meaningful legislation passed that will help save lives,” Blough said. “To be a part of it just feels overwhelming.”

Senators have also been passionate about getting this bill passed.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen said after seeing the current system for patients with mental illness, he wanted a change.

“Folks who were just mentally ill were just locked up for months at a time,” Sen. Sheehen said. “When I saw that kind of human tragedy, I looked for a solution, and I saw that in some few counties, mental health courts have been making a difference. This bill will allow mental health courts to be established in every community in South Carolina.”

The bill will now be read in the Senate for final approval, which is expected to take place next Tuesday. Following that, the the bill will head to the House of Representatives.

Read this full article on the WLTX 19 Website

Senate Gets Bill Expanding Mental Health Courts

March 18th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Senate Gets Bill Expanding Mental Health Courts”

March 18th, 2015

Senate Judiciary Panel Passes Mental Health Courts Bill!

Yesterday was a major step for mental health reform in South Carolina! The SC Senate Judiciary Committee voted 23-0 for the Bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act, to move forward to the SC House. This is a crucial piece of legislation that will help reduce the number of mentally ill individuals incarcerated in state prisons, while diverting them to appropriate mental health services. This bill passing the SC Senate yesterday was thanks to not only the efforts of Paton Blough and other mental health advocates and local politicians, but also everyone who contacted their senators to encourage them to support the Mental Health Court Program Act. Thank you for your support now and in the future as this bill moves through the legislative process!

Read the full article about the vote in the Greenville News.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted unanimously to approve a bill to expand mental health courts in the state, sending the proposal to the full Senate.

Sen. Shane Massey, an Edgefield Republican, said the bill establishes a framework for a statewide system that is already being used in several judicial circuits.

“These things have been very popular and successful in communities where they are now,” he said.

Mental health courts divert mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and into treatment programs, much as drug courts do for drug offenders.

Currently, three mental health courts operate in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. Grants for their operation ran out years ago but they have continued to operate, officials say. Two other courts have closed in recent years due to lack of funding.

“I think this is a huge first step for the Senate to acknowledge mental health reform in our state,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who has spent a year pushing for the legislation. “I hope this is just the beginning.”

Read the full article about the vote in the Greenville News.

Advocacy Alert for the Mental Health Court Program Act

March 13th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “Advocacy Alert for the Mental Health Court Program Act”

March 13th, 2015

An article and video published yesterday by WYFF News Channel 4 discusses the Mental Health Court Program Act and SC’s need for it. The article features Paton Blough and Senator Larry Martin of Pickens discussing the necessity of the bill in the state. Bill S.426 (formerly titled S.209), the Mental Health Court Program Act, is a bill designed to treat mentally ill criminals, rather than incarcerate them for actions that are often outside their control. This bill has been a crucial bi-partisan effort by Paton Blough and a number of SC politicians like Senator Vincent Sheheen (D) and Senator Larry Martin (R).

You can watch the video on the WYFF Channel 4 website.

You can help us out in fighting for the Mental Health Court Program Act as well!

You can help us to fight for the passing of this bill by contacting the SC Senate Judiciary Committee! By contacting the following senators, you can encourage them to support S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee. By showing these senators your support for this bill, you are telling South Carolina that we NEED mental health courts and mental health reform in the state. Following is a list of the SC senators currently sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee along with their contact information. Now is the time to act for mental health reform!

Not sure what to say when you contact these senators? You can use this example letter/speech to help yourself out.

2015 Senate Judiciary Committee

Larry A. Martin (Chairman)

SRulesComm@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6610
Room 101 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 2 – Pickens

Lee Bright

LeeBright@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6008
Room 602 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. No. 12 – Greenville & Spartanburg

George E. “Chip” Campsen, III

ChipCampsen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6340
Room 305 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 43 – Berkeley, Charleston & Collecton

Creighton B. Coleman

CreightonColeman@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6132
Room 508 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.17-Chester, Fairfield & York

Ronnie A. Sabb

RonnieSabb@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6032
Room 504 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.32-Berkeley, Florence, Georgetown, Horry & Williamsburg

Thomas D. “Tom” Corbin

TomCorbin@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6100
Room 501 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 5 – Greenville & Spartanburg

Chauncey K. Gregory

GregGregory@scsenate.gov
803-212-6024
Room 606 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 16 – Lancaster & York Cos.

Greg Hembree

GregHembree@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6016
Room 604 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 28 – Dillon & Horry

A. Shane Massey

ShaneMassey@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6024
Room 606 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 25 – Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick & Saluda Cos.

Luke A. Rankin

SethicsComm@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6410
Room 205 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 33 – Horry

Katrina Frye Shealy

KatrinaShealy@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6108
Room 502 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 23- Lexington

Paul Thurmond

PaulThurmond@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6172
Room 513 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 41 – Charleston & Dorchester

Ross Turner

RossTurner@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6148
Room 512 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 8 – Greenville

Tom Young, Jr.

TomYoung@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6124
Room 506 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 24 – Aiken

Sean Bennett

SeanBennett@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6116
Room 601 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 7 – Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester

C. Bradley Hutto

BradHutto@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6140
Room 510 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 40 – Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell,Colleton, Hampton & Orangeburg

Kevin L. Johnson

KevinJohnson@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6048
Room 612 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 36 – Clarendon, Darlington, Florence & Sumter

Gerald Malloy

GeraldMalloy@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6172
Room 513 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 29 – Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee & Marlboro

J. Thomas McElveen, III

ThomasMcElveen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6132
Room 508 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 35 – Kershaw, Lee, Richland & Sumter

John L. Scott, Jr.

JohnScott@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6124
Room 506 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 19 – Richland

Karl B. Allen

KarlAllen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6040
Room 610 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 7 – Greenville

Shane R. Martin

ShaneMartin@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6100
Room 501 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.13 – Greenville, Spartanburg & Union

Marlon E. Kimpson

marlonkimpson@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6056
Room 613 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 42 – Charleston & Dorchester

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Rehinge exists to provide hope, education, and spiritual inspiration for all people affected with mental health issues and to fight stigma while pushing for global mental health reform.

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What People Are Saying

  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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