LEWISTON — A state committee is planning a public hearing for next week to examine the issue of criminalization of the mentally ill in Maine.

The Maine Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has scheduled a daylong briefing at City Hall on June 14 from 9:15 a.m to 4 p.m.

According to a press release, mental health budgets in this country have been “drastically cut” and in Maine, residents who may have received support and medical stabilization from the mental health system in the past are “now without such services.”

The result is that some Maine residents with mental health challenges are coming into contact with the criminal justice system more frequently.

Maine’s prisons and jails don’t have sufficient forensic units to house and treat people with mental health challenges, according to the press release.

Maine courts have held that the failure of law enforcement officials to make “reasonable accommodation” to this population in the services they provide is a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the press release said.

Elected and government officials, advocates and others are expected to testify before the committee.

The public is invited and encouraged to address the committee following those who have been asked to make presentations before the committee.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the president and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing an annual federal civil rights enforcement report.

For information about the Commission and its advisory committees, visit www.usccr.gov, or follow the Commission on Twitter and Facebook.


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