Lawmakers want to provide free mental health treatment for inmates
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - State Representative Larry Selders (D) says the Department of Corrections has a small list of mental health disorders they treat inside our prisons. That is why he is partnered with the DOC and the activist group VOTE to expand that list.
“If we can catch it now, if we can catch it when they’re incarcerated, to teach them how to cope with these different mental health illnesses or get them properly medicated, when they do return to society, they’ll be functioning citizens. 10% of the folks that are incarcerated are receiving treatment. It’s the other 90% that aren’t diagnosed correctly that’s not. And this bill just simply expands the criteria, the treatment, and some issues we can address going forward,” said Rep. Selders (D).
And according to Selders, the cost to provide these treatments won’t be placed on the inmates.
“No, it’ll be free, you know it’ll be free. DOC has pharmacies already. They have medication management already,” Rep. Selders added.
But to some, it may not seem fair since they would have to pay for their therapy sessions while those who break the law get treatment for free.
“There’s already therapists that get paid full time that work in those prisons. So, it’s not gonna be a charge, there’s not going to be an extra tax, it’s services that are already being rendered,” Rep. Selders explained.
Ronald Marshall is the Policy Analyst for VOTE and is a former inmate himself. He says he is trying to fix what he noticed was broken while he was doing time.
“That financial responsibility should not fall on the people who are incarcerated, it should fall on the administration. I was in prison for 25 years. I spent 25 years there, and I could not leave and go check on my mental health. I had to depend on the resources available to me within that prison community. If the resources were not there, then what do I do?” said Marshall.
Although the bill has already been filed, the two groups and Rep. Selders say they still have some kinks to iron out before they bring it before the committee.
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