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Indiana bill to divert people from jail into mental health treatment heads to governor

Indiana Representative Greg Steuerwald sits in a chair. He's wearing a suit and is looking off camera. Other men in suits sit behind him.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) has long led the Indiana House on criminal justice reform measures.

People with mental health issues could be diverted to local treatment facilities instead of jail under legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

HB 1006, overwhelmingly approved by both chambers, sets out rules and a timeline for how a person who’s been arrested should be evaluated, treated and potentially committed for mental illness.

Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) said the measure will help reduce crime and “salvage a lot of lives.”

“By getting at the underlying, root cause of why people end up in the criminal justice system: mental health issues, addiction issues,” Pierce said.

READ MORE: Lawmakers aim to get people with mental health issues into treatment, instead of jail

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) said a key change to the bill late in the process ensures that while physician assistants and advanced practice nurses can examine the person, only a doctor can sign off on a petition to detain and commit the person.

“That’s also true of testifying in court – only the physician may testify in a court proceeding,” Steuerwald said.

The bill will be coupled with funding for local treatment programs. The money for that will be in the state budget.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Brandon Smith

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