The OTOC Mental Health Action Team asks you to call or e-mail members of the Judiciary Committee to support two bills that would improve the care of prisoners with mental health issues. Judiciary will decide whether to advance those bills after a public hearing that will take place on Friday, Feb. 20 beginning at 1:30 pm in Room 1113 at the Capitol. If you want to attend the hearing, E-mail Sarita Penka at [email protected].

LB 592—Increase and improve Prison Mental Health Care and Re-Entry care

Prison mental health services reform: This bill ensures that inmates with mental illness receive treatment; evaluation within 2 weeks of admission and  evaluation pre-release; track inmates with mental illness post-release, readies commitment proceedings post-release. It also requires notification of local law enforcement before an inmate who is potentially mentally ill and dangerous is released. It also allocates an as-yet unspecified amount of money to improve mental health treatment and re-entry programs for inmates.

LB 598—Limit the use of isolation of prisoners in solitary confinement  

After July 1, 2016, no inmate shall be held  outside the general population unless done in the least restrictive  manner consistent with maintaining order in the institution; develop a long-term plan to reduce the use of isolation; develop criteria for different levels of confinement outside the population; Rules and regulations shall establish behavior, conditions, and mental health status under which an inmate may be placed in each confinement level as well as procedures for making such determinations; and also provide for  individualized transition plans for each confinement level back to the general population or to society;

Contact these key Senators:

Chair:  Sen. Les Seiler (Dist. 33 Hastings):

Phone: (402) 471-2712

Email: [email protected]

Omaha Area Senators

Bob Krist

(Dist 10 North Central Omaha)

Phone:   (402) 471-2718

Email: [email protected]

Ernie Chambers

(Dist. 11 NE Omaha):

Phone (402) 471-2612

Has no email address

Example of message or email to Senators:

Hello Sen. ______________.  My name is ______________, and I live at______________.  I’m contacting you to let you know that I support LB 592 which would improve mental health care while someone is in prison and while they are transitioning back to society. I also want you to assure there is enough funding so that effective mental health programs can be set up for mentally ill persons in prison. I also support LB 598 to assure that isolation in prison is used only when appropriate.  I strongly encourage you to vote yes for both LB 592 and LB 598.  Thank you for your support.