Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, District 40 — Press Release
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla Responds to the Need for Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System
Legislation has been presented to Governor Scott
“I appreciate the unanimous support of my Senate colleagues as we work to address an issue that concerns many of my constituents as well as other concerned families across our state,” said Senator Diaz de la Portilla. “Many people with undiagnosed or untreated mental illness end up in our jails and prisons. They don't belong there. With the proper treatment they could not only alleviate the already over-crowded corrections system, but also be productive members of society.”
House Bill 439 expands the authority of courts to use treatment-based mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and specifies minimum requirements of those programs. The bill expands the eligibility criteria for these programs to enable the participation of children in delinquency court and veterans who were released under a general discharge. The bill authorizes the dependency courts to require persons having or seeking custody of a child to participate in certain mental health programs. Other provisions of the bill address the designation of some county courts as “criminal county courts” for certain functions, county-funded mental health court programs and a forensic hospital diversion pilot program.
The bill encourages counties to establish and fund treatment-based mental health court programs. The bill also authorizes courts to admit defendants, on a voluntary basis, at both the pre-trial intervention and post-adjudicatory level into programs. The bill further encourages coordination among various state agencies, local governments, and law enforcement agencies to facilitate these programs.
The bill unanimously passed the Florida Senate and House of Representatives and has been presented to Governor Scott.
For more information on this legislation, please visit www.FLSenate.gov.