Veterans' Affairs Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-223

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TRAINING PROGRAM FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER ISSUES IMPACTING VETERANS INVOLVED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Vote Date:

3/14/2018

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/27/2018

File No.:

45

Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Veterans' Affairs Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill is to require the establishment of an ongoing training program for judges regarding mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues that are affecting veterans in the criminal justice system. Veterans are at a high risk of experiencing mental health conditions, and such conditions can manifest in a variety of ways and can be difficult for others to recognize and understand. The bill also allows the Chief Court Administrator to consult with organizations that advocate on behalf of veterans and mental health professionals, to make sure that the ongoing training program would include any “unique characteristic” about the crimes committed by veterans that were impacted by their mental health and PTSD issues.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

State of CT Judicial Branch, External Affairs Division: They request that this bill not be passed, as they say that judges already receive extensive and carefully considered training, including on specific topical issues that can vary from year to year. They therefore do not believe that setting the specific training in statute would be prudent. They give examples of previous seminars which focused on veterans' issues, and write that they are looking into a course that would collaborate with Veterans Administration professionals and a judge from another state's Veterans Court.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:


CT House Republican Caucus
: They write to express support for the bill and state that the training course proposed would be the best to ultimately benefit the veterans who suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues. They propose that the legislation would further provide judges with information on veterans involved in the criminal justice system and would give the judges more information to provide the best care to those veterans.


Berzins, Melanie, Public Policy Intern, CT Community Nonprofit Alliance
: She writes that the bill would provide judges with the necessary training to adequately identify and address mental health issues which affect veterans involved in the criminal justice system. She says that while mental health issues themselves are not associated with increased violence or criminal behavior, left untreated they may result in behaviors that increase likelihood of encountering the criminal justice system and can be considered mitigating circumstances. Berzins also states that it would allow judges to better understand and prepare to assist, rather than punish, veterans. The Alliance recommends the National Council for Behavioral Health's Adult Mental Health First Aid training as a curriculum for judges.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed.

Reported by: Edward Waters, Asst. Clerk

Date: 3/29/18