Placement for Individuals in the Least Restrictive but Clinically Appropriate Setting Will Mitigate Decade-long Issue and Improve Care

Baltimore, MD(April 24, 2018) — Governor Larry Hogan today signed House Bill 111 to address longstanding systemic issues involving court-ordered placements for individuals requiring mental health treatment. HB 111 is a bipartisan solution to restoring accountability for our society’s vulnerable—those with mental illness who become entangled in our criminal justice system. The bill, as presented to the Governor, provides clear timelines for accountability while also maintaining the flexibility to place individuals in the least restrictive yet clinically appropriate setting. HB 111 represents a new phase in the partnership between the Judiciary and the Maryland Department of Health (the Department) facilitated by the General Assembly regarding appropriate placements for individuals involved with the court who show signs of mental health issues.
With patient care and recovery the top priority, the Department worked diligently over the past several months to reverse a nearly decade-long problem of backlogs for justice system-involved individuals who require court-ordered placement for mental illness treatment at its hospitals. The Department formed a workgroup, on both sides of the aisle, to assess, make improvement recommendations, and to devise solutions to address the court-ordered placement process. Since then, the Department has been working in earnest to implement those recommendations as well as expand capacity both at state hospitals and through public-private partnerships with local hospitals, improve customer service, and restore partnerships.
“This was a longstanding problem and one that the Department worked hard to address,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert Neall. “We are committed to delivering the right care, in the right environment, for the right period of time across our entire system of care.”
Combining input from the Judiciary and the Department as expressed in their legislative efforts, this bill is part of the Governor’s smarter but not bigger approach to combating crime and ensuring that government works for Marylanders, not against them. The Department is committed to treating those with mental illness in the appropriate clinical setting, taking them out of jails and ensuring the judiciary acts promptly to restore civil rights as quickly as possible.
The Department’s priorities are and will remain: providing treatment in the least restrictive environment appropriate for each individual; operating an integrated system of care that encompasses a range of services across a variety of environments; emphasizing recovery-oriented care that works for the patient and the public; and leveraging community-provided services that have become the leading practice nationally over recent decades, in order to develop a true patient-first, efficient infrastructure.