Law to help inmates with mental health needs

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 63 into law Thursday that would prevent inmates who need mental health upon release from the Department of Correction (DOC) from being put out on the streets with nowhere to go if a spot for them in a treatment facility or with a family member is unavailable.

The law will take effect July 1.

Authored by Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange), the law now gives DOC the right to hold an inmate for 14 days past their release date if a medical reason exists and the stay is needed to find a new housing or treatment setting for the inmate. Inmates must consent to the extension or a court order must be issued. 

Click says this prevents the inmate from becoming homeless or on the streets.

Sen. Sue Glick

“Sometimes family members will step up and say they can take care of them, and then the inmate will be released to family members. But they realize that they can’t take care of them or have the resources in their home and that comes as a surprise both to the inmate and to the DOC,” Glick said. “They may need additional time to make more arrangements.”

While the DOCmakes every effort to establish re-entry and transitional services to every offender prior to their release, occasionally circumstances do arise that cause a hiccup.

That includes instances where family members who agreed to be an inmate’s caregiver back out or the designated transitional facility can’t receive the individual because there is no bed available.

This extra time gives DOC a chance to reassess the needs of the inmate and find an alternative treatment.