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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS – MORNING EDITION – WEDNESDAY, DEC. 10, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

REP: BILL PROTECTS POLICY ON MENTALLY ILL PRISONERS

A bill that would ensure protections for mentally ill prisoners remain in place is making headway late in the session. Under current Department of Correction rules, anyone who is sent to solitary confinement must first be evaluated for mental illness. If they are deemed mentally ill, they must be sent to a residential treatment facility, according to Rep. Ruth Balser, a Newton Democrat who filed legislation (H 4545) to make sure the rule remains in place. House lawmakers gave the bill initial approval Monday after it was released from the House Ways and Means Committee. Stemming from a legal settlement, the practice of evaluating prisoners before sending them to solitary confinement has been in place for three years, Balser said. Under the settlement, DOC established residential treatment facilities. However, federal law requires any court settlements with prison inmates to “sunset,” according to Balser. “In absence of this legislation the DOC would no longer be required to implement these reforms currently in place,” Balser said Tuesday. “The bill won’t change current policy; it will protect the current policy.” Prior to the settlement, Balser had filed legislation for years to require the state to send mentally ill patients to treatment centers rather than segregation. “I have a long-standing commitment to the issue of making sure mentally ill individuals receive treatment rather than punishment,” she said. “When mentally ill people are sent to segregation they deteriorate rapidly.” – Colleen Quinn/SHNS

STEWARD, MASS IN MOTION ON PHC AGENDA

State officials will receive an update Wednesday on wellness initiatives under the Mass in Motion program. The Public Health Council is also scheduled to vote on final adult day health program licensing regulations and final rules governing the Massachusetts Immunization Information System. Council members face a vote as well on a request by Steward St. Anne?s Hospital Corporation that has generated a response from the Southcoast Hospitals Group and which was covered by The Boston Globe on Wednesday morning. The council meets at 9 a.m. in Boston. – Michael Norton/SHNS

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