An unlikely pair of lawmakers are teaming up to introduce legislation aimed at improving access to mental health services for people in the country's criminal justice system.
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Spring Hill, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., hope the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act will help reduce the rate of repeat offenders and improve the safety of law enforcement officers.
"After 37 years in law enforcement, I have seen far too many tragedies result from mental health needs that either went unnoticed, untreated or misunderstood," Nugent said in a statement.
He said the legislation will help give law enforcement more tools and training to improve the way the legal system handles people suffering from mental health issues.
In a statement, Franken said Minnesota's jails are overwhelmed with people who would likely be better served by the mental health system.
The House bill was introduced Wednesday. The Senate version is expected to be introduced shortly.
The bills have a large number of co-sponsors on both sides of the political aisle.