Gavarone introduces bill helping people with mental illness jailed for non-violent crimes

State Senator Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, this week introduced legislation aimed at reducing the amount of people in jail who are suffering with mental illness and have committed non-violent crimes.

“Through my years as an attorney, I have seen the inadequacies of the way we deal with people who struggle with mental illness,” Gavarone said. “This legislation seeks to express an intent for a reformed process.”

Gavarone currently is working with former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Evelyn Stratton, chairwoman of Ohio’s “Stepping Up Initiative,”and members of an ad-hoc subcommittee on the language that will be presented to the General Assembly. The Stepping Up Initiative is a national effort to help divert people who struggle with mental illness from jails and into treatment.

“All agree that the competency restoration process in Ohio for people with serious mental illness must be reformed,” Stratton said. “The current system is expensive and inefficient and does not result in a reduction in crime or a substantial improvement in the mental health of people with severe mental illness. We are grateful to Senator Gavarone for taking the initiative to work with us on crafting a solution to this important issue.”

Gavarone introduced House Bill 778 last General Assembly to get the conversation started on these much needed reforms.

“The work with Justice Stratton and members of her ‘Stepping Up’ team will have a tremendous positive impact on our criminal justice system and the availability of beds for those suffering from mental illness,” Gavarone added.” Senate Bill 58 will now be referred to a committee for further consideration.

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