Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that Governor McAuliffe’s budget includes $11 million to expand mental health resources for individuals involved with Virginia’s criminal justice system and transitional housing for forensic patients. The investment follows the work of the Governor’s Taskforce on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response.
“Governor McAuliffe’s additional investment in mental health treatment and services will help close some of the gaps that have been brought to the taskforce’s attention,” said Lt. Gov. Northam. “Building a Healthy and Prosperous Virginia includes providing quality care and treatment for individuals with mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders.”
“The intersection between mental health and our criminal justice system in the Commonwealth is significant,”said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Governor McAuliffe recognizes that in order to enhance public safety and improve outcomes for justice-involved persons, their families and our communities, we must invest in and expand necessary behavioral health services.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Bill Hazel added, “Providing more and better behavioral health treatment in jails is critical, but without stable housing, it is virtually impossible for individuals to concentrate on treatment. Effective mental health care is key to successful reentry to the community for many residing in our jails and will provide alternatives to incarceration so that jail is not the last resort for housing and treatment.”
“This is the most pressing problem facing jails today, and I appreciate the efforts of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor to try and fund solutions,” Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle said.
The two-year budget plan includes $11 million for the following programs:
Department of Criminal Justice Services
- $2,500,000 each year for pilot programs in local and regional jails for services to mentally ill inmates.
Health & Human Resources
Department of Behavioral Health & Development
- $85,000/year to expand outpatient competency restoration system. Outpatient competency restoration services consist of assessment services to determine the cause of the incompetency, one-to-one educational sessions regarding the legal system, case management services, psychiatry services as needed, and medications.
- $84,000/year to expand the availability of resources to conditionally released individuals who were adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity
- $152,016 in FY 17 and $202,689 in FY18 to support an oversight system for court-ordered competency and sanity evaluations.
Grants to Localities (Community Services Boards)
- $600,000/year to increase post-booking diversion options for persons with mental illness or co-occurring substance abuse disorders involved in the criminal justice system.
- $1,536,119 in FY17 and $3,016,492 in FY18 to support a transitional housing continuum for forensic patients.
Last week Governor McAuliffe announced that sheriffs and state-supported employees will receive a 2 percent pay raise in 2017, contingent on a stable revenue forecast for fiscal year 2018. The Governor’s entire budget will be announced on Thursday, December 17 in Richmond.