Bill Text: NJ S2560 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Concerns diversion from criminal prosecution for persons with mental illness under certain circumstances.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-05-14 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee [S2560 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S2560-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2560

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 14, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Concerns diversion from criminal prosecution for persons with mental illness under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning diversion for persons with mental illness, supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and Title 52 of the Revised Statutes, and amending P.L.1987, c.116.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) As used in this act:

     "Crisis Intervention Team Center of Excellence Program"  or "CIT" means the 40-hour national certification and training program offered to law enforcement officers and other first responders to provide the skills, knowledge, and support systems necessary to divert persons experiencing a mental health crisis from the criminal justice system to behavioral health treatment services; improve law enforcement response to persons experiencing a mental health crisis; and protect the safety of first responders, the person in crisis, and the public.

     "Crisis Intervention Team - New Jersey Center of Excellence Program" or "CIT-NJ" means this State's county-based 40-hour training and certification program modelled on the CIT but adapted to conform with the laws and the specific resources and needs in this State.

     "Crime or offense involving violence" means a crime or offense involving violence or the threat of violence if the victim suffers bodily injury as defined in subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:11-1, or the actor is armed with and uses a deadly weapon or threatens by word or gesture to use a deadly weapon as defined in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:11-1, or threatens to inflict bodily injury.

     "Mental health crisis" means a behavioral, emotional, or psychiatric situation which, but for the provision of crisis response services, would likely result in significantly reduced levels of functioning in primary activities of daily living, or in an emergency situation, or in the placement of the recipient in a more restrictive setting, including but not limited to, inpatient hospitalization.

     "Mental illness" means a mental disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  The Police Training Commission in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall adopt a one day in- service basic training course to provide law enforcement officers with the skills and knowledge necessary to recognize, respond to, and divert from the criminal justice system, when appropriate, a person experiencing a mental health crisis.    

     (1) Every full-time law enforcement officer who is or may be assigned uniformed patrol duty on or after the effective date of P.L.     c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall complete the basic training course within one year following the effective date of P.L.     c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or within one year of the date the officer is appointed. 

     (2) A law enforcement officer who is assigned to uniformed patrol duty shall complete an in-service refresher course at least once every five years following the basic training course required in paragraph (1) of this subsection. 

     b.    In addition to the basic training course required in subsection a. of this section, the Police Training Commission shall adopt the CIT-NJ and establish standards for requiring a certain percentage of law enforcement officers to receive this training.  The percentage shall be based on the size and responsibilities of each law enforcement agency and the characteristics of the community, with the goal of certifying at least 20 percent of law enforcement officers assigned to uniformed patrol duty. 

     c.     The Police Training Commission, in consultation with the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Health, shall develop and maintain relevant curriculums for the law enforcement training programs required in subsections a. and b. of this section. Each curriculum shall be reviewed and approved every two years and modified as appropriate. Each curriculum shall include classroom instruction and interactive training to assure the most realistic learning experience. The CIT-NJ curriculum shall adhere to the goals and core elements of the CIT or other similar evidence-based models. At a minimum, each curriculum shall include training on:  

     (1) the cause and nature of mental illness;

     (2) identifying indicators of mental illness and the appropriate response in various situations;

     (3) conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques for potentially dangerous situations involving a mentally ill person;

     (4) use of appropriate language when interacting with a mentally ill person;

     (5) alternatives to lethal force when interacting with a potentially dangerous mentally ill person; and

     (6) community and State resources available to serve the mentally ill and how they can be best utilized by law enforcement to benefit this community.

 

     3.    (New section) The Department of Health, in cooperation with local government officials, shall coordinate and facilitate a Mental Health Services Coordinating Council in each county comprised of representatives from local law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, courts, treatment facilities, county departments of social services, veterans' organizations, hospitals and emergency rooms, and mental health advocacy groups.  The council periodically shall meet to identify mental health screening, treatment, and case management resources within each county that are available to support law enforcement diversion of a person who is experiencing a mental health crisis.  To the extent feasible, the council shall develop information sharing technologies to assist law enforcement officers in promptly identifying available mental health resources to facilitate the emergent diversion of a person who is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

 

     4.    (New section)  When a person taken into custody for a crime or offense exhibits behavior that appears related to a mental health crisis, the law enforcement officer may, with due regard for the safety of the person, a victim, the public, and the officer, divert the person to a screening service as defined in section 4 of P.L.1987 c.116 (C.30:4-27.4) or other alternative for mental health screening and assessment identified by the Department of Health. Following an evaluation performed by the screening service or other alternative, the officer shall have discretion, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Attorney General, in determining whether a criminal complaint shall be filed against the person. Except for a crime or offense involving violence or when the law enforcement officer perceives a risk to a victim or the public, there shall be a presumption to delay or forgo filing a criminal complaint until the person has received behavioral health treatment services. If a criminal complaint is not filed due to diversion to a screening service or behavioral health treatment provider, a law enforcement officer subsequently may file a criminal complaint, subject to the time limitations of N.J.S.2C:1-6, if the person fails to cooperate with the screening service or treatment provider, or commits a subsequent crime or offense.

 

     5.    (New section)  a.  At any time after the filing of a criminal complaint, but prior to the disposition of the complaint, a prosecutor, upon request of the defendant, the defendant's legal counsel, or at the prosecutor's own discretion, may approve the diversion of a defendant to a mental health screening service or behavioral health treatment service.  After the prosecutor has approved the diversion, the prosecutor shall motion the court to postpone proceedings while the defendant participates in mental health screening or treatment services. The court may grant the postponement of proceedings and release the defendant on the defendant's own recognizance subject to compliance with any conditions specified in the prosecutor's diversion agreement.

     b.    Except as provided in subsection c. of this section, the prosecutor shall have sole discretion in determining whether a defendant is diverted from prosecution to participate in mental health screening or treatment services after consideration of:

     (1) the nature of the eligible offense;

     (2) the causative relationship between the person's diagnosed or apparent mental illness and the commission of the offense;

     (3) the amenability of the defendant to participation in screening and treatment services;

     (4) the availability of case management and behavioral health treatment services;

     (5) the input of any victim;

     (6) the person's criminal history record;

     (7) the public safety; and

     (8) any other factor deemed appropriate by the Attorney General or the prosecutor.

     c.     A defendant who is charged with a crime or offense involving violence or was previously convicted of a violent crime enumerated in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2) shall not be diverted from prosecution pursuant to this section.

     d.    There shall be a presumption against diversion, subject to the discretion of the prosecutor after consulting with any victim, for a defendant charged with:

     (1) a crime of the first or second degree; or

     (2) a crime or offense involving domestic violence, as defined in subsection a. of section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19) if the defendant committed the crime or offense while subject to a temporary or permanent restraining order issued pursuant to the provisions of the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991," P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.).

     e.     The prosecutor shall consult with each victim of a crime or offense prior to approving a defendant's diversion to behavioral health treatment services; however, nothing in this section shall be construed to alter or limit the authority or discretion of the prosecutor to divert a defendant into behavioral health treatment services if the prosecutor believes that diversion is in the interest of the public and the defendant.

     f.     The prosecutor's approval of a diversion to behavioral health treatment services shall not be conditioned on an admission or plea of guilty by a defendant.

     g.    The court shall review the status of the deferred prosecution for the crime or offense no later than six months from the date on which the court approved the prosecutor's initial request for a postponement of the proceedings, and, thereafter, every six months from the most recent review, to consider, based on information provided by the prosecutor, whether the postponement of court proceedings as requested by the prosecutor should continue.

     h.    The charges against the defendant may be dismissed by the court upon motion of the prosecutor if, after a minimum of six months from the date of diversion, the prosecutor is satisfied that the defendant:

     (1) has complied with the terms and conditions of the diversion agreement;

     (2) has not been the subject of any subsequent criminal charges;  and

     (3) based on clinical reports, is no longer experiencing a mental health crisis. 

     i.     If, at any time, the prosecutor finds that the defendant has failed to comply with any term or condition of the diversion agreement, the prosecutor may notify the court that the State is prepared to proceed with the prosecution of the offense and the court shall schedule court proceedings as appropriate.  Alternatively, the prosecutor may extend the term of the diversion agreement which may be contingent on compliance with additional conditions.

     j.     A fee shall not be assessed to a defendant to be eligible for, or to participate in, diversion as provided in this section.

     k.    A defendant may be diverted from criminal prosecution pursuant to this section one or more times at the discretion of the prosecutor if the prosecutor finds that the diversion will promote the defendant's mental health, prevent the commission of future offenses, and protect the safety of the public.  Nothing in this act shall preclude a defendant from applying for admission to a criminal justice diversion program, including a program of supervisory treatment pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-12, conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36A-1, or conditional dismissal pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2013, c.158 (C.2C:43-13.1), as an alternative to a diversion authorized pursuant to this section to the extent that the defendant meets the eligibility criteria and qualifies for the program.  The dismissal of a criminal complaint resulting from successful diversion into behavioral health treatment services pursuant to this section shall bar a defendant's subsequent eligibility for a program of supervisory treatment pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-12, conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36A-1, or conditional dismissal pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2013, c.158 (C.2C:43-13.1); however, the defendant may seek subsequent diversion to behavioral health treatment pursuant to this section services at the sole discretion of the prosecutor.

     l.     The dismissal of charges based on a defendant's successful participation in behavioral health treatment services pursuant to this section shall not be deemed:

     (1)   a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities, if any, imposed by law upon conviction of a petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense, or a crime, but shall be reported to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files for purposes of determining future eligibility or exclusion from other diversion programs; or

     (2)   a conviction for the purpose of determining whether a second or subsequent offense has occurred under any law of this State.

 

     6.    (New section) Nothing in section 5 of P.L.     c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be construed to limit or constrain in any way the authority or discretion of a prosecutor to divert, prosecute, or pursue any other disposition of a criminal matter involving a defendant experiencing a mental health crisis.

 

     7.    (New section)  a. The Department of Health shall develop and implement any pilot program necessary to improve response times when a law enforcement officer requests assistance in intervening with a person experiencing a mental health crisis. 

     b.    To stabilize a defendant who is experiencing a mental health crisis and assist prosecutors in determining whether a defendant should be diverted from prosecution into behavioral health treatment services due to a mental health crisis, the department also shall develop and implement any pilot program necessary to expand the availability of mental health screening services in emergent situations by using mobile response units and telemedicine, and assigning licensed health care professionals to high-volume courts and county jails. 

 

     8.    Section 5 of P.L.1987, c.116 (C.30:4-27.5) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    The commissioner shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) regarding a screening service and its staff that effectuate the following purposes and procedures:

     a.     A screening service shall serve as the facility in the public mental health care treatment system wherein a person believed to be in need of involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment, a short-term care facility, psychiatric facility or special psychiatric hospital undergoes an assessment to determine what mental health services are appropriate for the person and where those services may be most appropriately provided in the least restrictive environment.

     The screening service may provide emergency and consensual treatment to the person receiving the assessment and may transport the person or detain the person up to 24 hours for the purposes of providing the treatment and conducting the assessment.

     b.    When a person assessed by a mental health screener and involuntary commitment to treatment seems necessary, the screener shall provide, on a screening document prescribed by the division, information regarding the person's history and available alternative facilities and services that are deemed inappropriate for the person. When appropriate and available, and as permitted by law, the screener shall make reasonable efforts to gather information from the person's family or significant others for the purposes of preparing the screening document.  If a psychiatrist, in consideration of this document and in conjunction with the psychiatrist's own complete assessment, concludes that the person is in need of commitment to treatment, the psychiatrist shall complete the screening certificate.  The screening certificate shall be completed by a psychiatrist except in those circumstances where the division's contract with the screening service provides that another physician may complete the certificate.

     Upon completion of the screening certificate, screening service staff shall determine, in consultation with the psychiatrist or another physician, as appropriate, the least restrictive environment for the appropriate treatment to which the person shall be assigned or admitted, taking into account the person's prior history of hospitalization and treatment and the person's current mental health condition.  Screening service staff shall designate:

     (1)   inpatient treatment for the person if he is immediately or imminently dangerous or if outpatient treatment is deemed inadequate to render the person unlikely to be dangerous to self, others or property within the reasonably foreseeable future; and

     (2)   outpatient treatment for the person when outpatient treatment is deemed sufficient to render the person unlikely to be dangerous to self, others or property within the reasonably foreseeable future.

     If the screening service staff determines that the person is in need of involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment, the screening service staff shall consult with an outpatient treatment provider to arrange, if possible, for an appropriate interim plan of outpatient treatment in accordance with section 9 of P.L.2009, c.112 (C.30:4-27.8a).

     If a person has been admitted three times or has been an inpatient for 60 days at a short-term care facility during the preceding 12 months, consideration shall be given to not placing the person in a short-term care facility.

     The person shall be admitted to the appropriate facility or assigned to the appropriate outpatient treatment provider, as appropriate for treatment, as soon as possible.  Screening service staff are authorized to coordinate initiation of outpatient treatment or transport the person or arrange for transportation of the person to the appropriate facility.

     c.     If the mental health screener determines that the person is not in need of assignment or commitment to an outpatient treatment provider, or admission or commitment to a short-term care facility, psychiatric facility, or special psychiatric hospital, the screener shall: 

     (1) refer the person to an appropriate community mental health or social services agency or appropriate professional or inpatient care in a psychiatric unit of a general hospital; or

     (2) if the person was diverted to the screening service by a law enforcement officer, provide referral through personal contact to the most appropriate, least restrictive treatment setting indicated, and linkage and follow-up to maintain contact with the person until the person is engaged with another behavior health service licensed by the appropriate authority, where applicable, or the person is no longer experiencing a mental health crisis.

     d.    A mental health screener shall make a screening outreach visit if the screener determines, based on clinically relevant information provided by an individual with personal knowledge of the person subject to screening, that the person may need involuntary commitment to treatment and the person is unwilling or unable to come to the screening service for an assessment.

     e.     If the mental health screener pursuant to this assessment determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a person is in need of involuntary commitment to treatment, the screener shall so certify the need on a form prepared by the division.

     f.     The commissioner may adopt rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this section.

(c.f. P.L.2009, c.112, s.5)

 

     9.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires uniformed law enforcement officers assigned to patrol duty to complete a one day in-service training program adopted by the Police Training Commission (PTC) in the Department of Law and Public Safety to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to recognize and respond to a person experiencing a mental health crisis, and when appropriate, divert that person from the criminal justice system. These law enforcement officers are required by the bill to complete an in-service refresher course at least once every five years thereafter. 

     The bill also requires the PTC to adopt the Crisis Intervention Team - New Jersey Center for Excellence Program (CIT-NJ), the State's county-based 40-hour training and certification program modelled on the national Crisis Intervention Team Center of Excellence Program (CIT).  CIT-NJ is designed to provide the skills, knowledge, and support systems necessary to divert persons experiencing a mental health crisis from the criminal justice system into behavioral health treatment services; improve law enforcement response to persons experiencing a mental health crisis; and protect the safety of first responders, the person in crisis, and the public.  The program is to require a certain percentage of law enforcement officers, with a goal of 20 percent, to receive this training based on the size and responsibilities of the law enforcement agency and the particular characteristics of the community. 

     Under the bill, the PTC is to consult with the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Health (DOH), to develop and maintain relevant curriculums for the law enforcement training programs established by the bill. The curricula are to be reviewed and approved every two years and modified as appropriate. They are to include classroom instruction and interactive training to assure realistic learning experiences.  At a minimum, each curriculum shall include training on: (1) the cause and nature of mental illness; (2) how to identify indicators of mental illness and appropriately respond in a variety of common situations; (3) conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques for potentially dangerous situations involving mentally ill persons; (4) use of appropriate language when interacting with mentally ill persons; (5) alternatives to lethal force when interacting with potentially dangerous mentally ill; and (6) community and State resources available to serve mentally ill persons and how they can be best utilized by law enforcement to benefit the community.

     The bill requires the DOH, in conjunction with local government officials, to coordinate and facilitate a Mental Health Services Coordinating Council in each county to identify mental health screening, treatment, and case management resources within each county available to support law enforcement diversion for persons experiencing a mental health crisis. The councils are to include representatives of local law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, courts, treatment facilities, county departments of social services, veterans' organizations, hospitals and emergency rooms, and mental health advocacy groups. 

     If a person taken into custody for a crime or offense exhibits behavior that appears related to a mental health crisis, the law enforcement officer is authorized to, with due regard for the safety of the person, a victim, the public, and the officer, divert the person to a screening service or other alternative for mental health screening and assessment identified by the DOH.  The screening service is responsible for providing referrals through personal contact to the most appropriate, least restrictive treatment setting indicated, linkage and follow-up to maintain contact with the person until the person is engaged with another behavior health service or the person is no longer experiencing a mental health crisis. 

     The officer has discretion in determining whether a criminal complaint should be filed against the person who received the evaluation.  There is to be a preference to delay or forego the filing of a criminal complaint until the person has had the opportunity to receive behavioral health treatment services, unless the crime or offense involved violence or the officer perceives a risk to a victim or the public.  The officer subsequently may file a criminal complaint against a diverted person if the person fails to cooperate with the screening service or treatment provider, or commits another crime or offense. 

     The bill also authorizes the county prosecutors to approve diversion of a defendant any time after the filing, but before disposition, of the complaint to a mental health screening service or behavioral health treatment service. Court proceedings are to be postponed pending the defendant's treatment.  Defendants charged with a crime involving violence are not eligible for diversion and there is a presumption against diversion for defendants charged with certain serious crimes.  The court is to review the defendant's case every six months.  Charges may be dismissed if certain conditions are met by the defendant and charges may be reinstated if any conditions are not met. 

     The DOH also is required by the bill to develop and implement any pilot program needed to improve response times when a law enforcement officer requests assistance in intervening with a person experiencing a mental health crisis and to expand availability of mental health screening services in emergent situations. 

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