At the Children, Families, Health and Human Services interim committee meeting today, it discussed two versions of a bill for forensic prerelease centers.
Prerelease centers are facilities in communities that help an offender transition into living independently.
The original draft of bills LCCF 10 and 11 both allow prerelease centers to serve guilty but mentally ill offenders (GBMI) who have been released on parole or are ready to move to a transitional facility. They would also provide $3 million in the 2017 biennium to those centers. However, one bill calls for the facility to be operated privately, and the other by the state.
"Representative Schreiner made the motion for two separate draft so you can take public comment on both approaches and consider what might work best," Research Analyst Sue O'Connell.
The interim committee passed bill LCCF 10 for private operation of prerelease centers as is.
But the committee amended the state operated bill to instead focus on mental health group homes. Patti Jacques has a mentally ill family member who has gone through a prerelease center, and she said it's not the answer.
"Forensic patients need to transition into community group homes or foster homes not prereleases. And mentally ill patients--or inmates-- need to be under the control of DPHHS," Jacques said.
Instead of passing bill LCCF 11 today, the interim committee put State Representative Casey Schreiner in charge of adjusting the bill's language to match its amendment. The committee will take final action on the bill at a later time. But the bill for privately operated institutions will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session.