Press Release: NYS Senator Carlucci's Bill to Expand Mental Health Training in Prisons Awaits Action by Governor

NYAPRS Note: NYS Senator David Carlucci held a press conference yesterday afternoon urging Governor Cuomo to sign S.633 –legislation that expands mental health and suicide prevention training for corrections officers and staff – into law by the deadline on December 11. The press conference took place in Ossining, NY, at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Our own Tom Templeton was on hand to deliver brief remarks in support of the bill.

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Senator Carlucci’s Bill to Expand Mental Health Training in Prisons Awaits Action by Governor

Governor Cuomo has until December 11th to Sign or Veto Bill

Ossining, NY - (12/7/15) - Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) announced that his bill to expand mandatory mental health training in New York state prisons has been delivered to the Governor's office. The bill, S.633, must be signed into law or vetoed before midnight on Friday, December 11th by the Governor. A lack of resources and mental health training places correctional officers, program services personnel, medical staff, and inmates at risk. According to the Correctional Association of New York, over 8,500 state prison inmates are in need of mental health treatment. In addition, they have found that over the last four years the suicide rates in New York prisons have been above the national average by 60 percent. 

Senator Carlucci’s bill would ensure that all correctional officers in New York state prisons will have the tools they need to keep themselves and those they are responsible for safe. This bill will mandate a minimum of eight hours of mental health training annually, including suicide prevention, for anyone with direct inmate interaction. 

Joining Senator Carlucci in support of his bill are the National Alliance of Mental Illness- New York State, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and the Correctional Association of New York, and the Mental Health Association of Westchester.

“Treatment for the mentally ill remains one of the biggest health concerns facing our country today. As the number of incarcerated individuals living with mental illness continues to rise, corrections officers and personnel with our state’s prison system must be provided with essential training they need to recognize the signs of mental illness,” said Senator Carlucci. “We have a responsibility to protect those in custody from harming themselves, or others, and through this training the Department of Correctional Services and Community Supervision will have the tools to do just that. I join my partners in government and throughout the community and urge Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law.”

“Today, as jails are replacing the asylums of yesterday as the unfortunate destination for many people living with severe mental illness, we need to ensure their mental health is made a priority. This starts with providing prison staff with the appropriate training which would reduce suicide in prisons and help generate the most positive outcomes for both inmates and staff. NAMI-NYS applauds Senator Carlucci for being a champion on this issue which is too often overlooked,” said Matthew Shapiro, Public Engagement Coordinator, NAMI-NYS

“It has been shown that the vast majority of inmate suicides involve people with diagnosable mental health conditions. NYAPRS supports expanded training that increases corrections officers’ and staff’s ability to recognize and respond to risk factors associated with inmate suicide. Accordingly, we join Senator Carlucci and our advocacy partners in urging Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation,” said Tom Templeton, Public Policy Specialist, NYAPRS.

“Given the high prevalence of people with mental health needs throughout the entire prison system, it is crucial that all staff be trained in how to have positive interactions with these patients.  Expanding training is an important step to help these patients thrive, improve the operations of the prisons, and enhance the safety for all staff and incarcerated persons,” said Jack Beck, Director of the Prison Visiting Project, the Correctional Association of New York.

“We at the Mental Health Association of Westchester are pleased to support Senate Bill S.633 that provides mental health training for staff inside correctional facilities. Education and training is fundamental to effectively identifying and appropriately addressing situations where an individual is at risk and in need of specialized Behavioral Health support,” said Dr.  Amy Kohn, CEO of Mental Health Association of Westchester.

                                                                                      

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Senator Carlucci is joined by (from left to right), Matthew Shapiro, Jack Beck and Tom Templeton in front of Sing Sing Prison to urge Governor Cuomo to expand mental health training in state prisons

 

For more information, please contact Justin Devendorf (315) 491-7564.

 

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