Lawmakers passed a bill April 13 meant to address the mental and physical health needs of incarcerated individuals.
Under current state law, an individual sentenced for a felony charge is required to serve the sentence in a state correctional facility. LB921, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, would have required that all sentences for Class III, IIIA or IV felony charges or for a maximum term of imprisonment of less than one year be served in a county jail.
Those provisions were removed and replaced with provisions of LB1223, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, which require the state Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse a county jail if a person who is ordered committed to the department for competency restoration remains in jail. The rate of reimbursement is $100 per day and will be adjusted for inflation annually beginning July 1, 2023.
The provisions apply to individuals with mental illness so severe that they are deemed incompetent to stand trial. Those individuals also are designated as a priority group for admission to state hospitals and the bill requires that 10 percent of capacity at the Lincoln Regional Center be reserved for them. Other beds at LRC also are allocated, with 30 percent reserved to reduce the existing wait list.
Finally, the provisions create the Legislative Mental Health Care Capacity Strategic Planning Committee, which will contract with an independent consultant to determine the necessary capacity for inpatient mental health care in Nebraska.
The bill also includes provisions of LB952, introduced by Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, which require DHHS to provide Medicaid enrollment assistance to individuals prior to leaving incarceration beginning July 1, 2023.
The bill passed 46-0.